Letter: More students will get careers in arts than in pro-sports

To the editor:

With the dissolution of the theater department in the Ipswich schools, I sadly feel like an unwilling participant in the age-old American tradition of disparaging the arts.

Often written off as narcissistic and frivolous, art has overwhelming financial value as well as the ability to enrich everyone’s lives.

Why do people travel to Europe? For the abundant art and culture.

How are run-down cities and towns revitalized? When artists move in. Beverly, Lawrence, Lowell, and Boston’s South End are all examples.

What are some of the wealthiest international corporations? Walt Disney, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Universal Studios, etc. — all art- and design-related.

Virtually every product you use has been designed. Clothes, cars buildings, even food packaging — all created by artists.

Even those new free uniforms that the Ipswich sports teams will get have been designed by someone.

So you can say art doesn’t really matter. It surrounds you and is integral to everyone’s life.

There are many legitimate careers in film and theater: actor, director, producer, costume designer, set designer, prop master, script writer, etc.

A career as a professional artist is much more attainable than a career as a pro athlete. Why deprive these kids the exposure to so many potential occupations?

My hometown produced Katherine Hepburn, and Uma Thurman grew up in my husband’s rural western Massachusetts town.

If theater and drama departments aren’t very important, then why do we all know who these celebrities are?

The majority of actors start out in school productions, and as a town that has been known for its fabulous art curriculum and wonderful theater productions, who knows what future talent might be hidden here in Ipswich.

Drama encourages participants to look outside the box they’re living in, to see diversity in lives and ideas different from their own.

Theater also enhances engagement between the schools, the town residents, and parents who volunteer to help with the sets and costume production.

Ipswich students interested in sports have countless choices before them, whereas theater kids will now have zero options. Sports are always touted as the place to build camaraderie and self-esteem. Theater has the exact same purpose.

In 2016, a $1 million bond was approved at town meeting to cover the cost of the new athletic turf field. An additional $982k in donations was raised for construction.

And the drama department needs less than $38k to survive. At that rate, the cost of that single synthetic field would pay for 52 years of drama education. How is this fair, and why are our priorities so skewed?

Will most football, soccer, etc. students continue their team sport activities into college or adulthood? Doubtful. However, artists are overwhelmingly likely to continue their passion.

A strong arts curriculum will open doors for a lifetime of engagement and learning. Drama teaches confidence, creativity, and public speaking.

Isn’t the point of education to encourage well-rounded development and build self-esteem, especially during the formative years?

I understand the school committee works tirelessly to balance the yearly budgets, but I feel they are wrong in this case, and their decision seems to be very unpopular among us, the taxpayers.

Ann Fitzgerald