Public universities across Wisconsin are feeling the struggle of budget cuts, and the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point’s art department will again be under a new and smaller budget.
Within the Noel Fine Arts Center, students can find unique architecture and student work displayed in the open lobby while music from an array of different instruments reverberates from the walls.
UW-Stevens Point attracts many students from around the country for the renowned fine arts college facing changes due to budget cuts.
“Adequate funding ensures that all students have access to the arts. Funding allows well trained professors to not only teach a skill, but to show how history and culture connect directly to the arts,” commented Catherine Wilson, assistant professor of music.
Students enjoy the opportunities offered by the fine arts college, “I am currently enrolled in a sculpting course,” said Whitney Sorenson, senior interior architect major, “it allows me to kind of relax and unwind.”
Understanding and teaching the arts encompasses much more than skills.
Wilson mentioned physiological positives such the soothing properties of music, not to mention the enjoyment aspect. Art can socially connect a group of people and create a bond. Cultures are understood through art.
“Personally, I believe people will remain artistic without instruction,” said Wilson, “there is research showing that humans are naturally musical and that it was key to our survival as hunter-gatherers, however without instruction in the arts, we may lose entire genres of work, and the understanding of our history and culture in which they were created. People will be less skilled as artists and musicians, and community organizations that are important to us, such as bands and choirs, may no longer exist.”
The need and want to create art is innate to humanity, without the fine arts college students will miss out on the ability to create and they will lack the instruction as to why they must continue to create.
“It is hard enough to compete with other departments receiving more funding while the arts loses. It is even harder to learn as an individual artist when there is a lack of resources,” mentioned Maddy Steinbach, freshman art major with a 2-D emphasis.
Funding for art courses are being cut across the board. Public universities down to public elementary schools are seeing less students partaking in classes like music solely because it is no longer offered.
“Art provides perspective, it makes you think. Without art instruction, culture and history could be lost forever,” said Wilson.
Those in government are continuing down a path of solutions, while some proclaim the power of the private donor will save the arts, others see the arts as an economic investment.
Wisconsin politicians, State Senator Shelia Harsdorf and Wisconsin State Assembly Representative Warren Petryk proposed a recent bill, “Wisconsin Creates” which is a call for action to support the arts and creativity in education through, “public/private partnerships to leverage and grow assets and resources throughout the state.”
The fight for funding the arts continues, and students like Steinbach and Sorenson will remain eager to fine-tune their skills and learn about the important historical and cultural connections made through art.
Steinbach said, “I’m good at art. It is super important and it’s everywhere. The world would be boring without it.”