To the Editor:
There's an alchemical principle that holds "as above, so below." Therefore, it's easy to see a parallel between President Bush's tax cuts, which were supposed to help all taxpayers, and the Memphis Arts Council's recent trashing of its well-established and respected educational programs. Bush's tax cuts will do nothing for the poorest 8 million taxpayers, just as the elimination of arts-education programs targeting Memphis City Schools and early-childhood education will further impoverish schoolchildren's access to arts education. Summer programs by the MCA, Theatre Memphis, and the Memphis Ballet only benefit the children whose parents are willing to pay the fees.
The council's education programs were the only programs that directly benefited people at street level -- and directly benefited artists. The summer institutes for teachers hired a great many Memphis artists to be artists, a novel experience for most of them.
Cutting arts education seems to have been done for no justifiable good reason and no explanation other than some rhetoric about budget cuts. The only people who seem to favor this decision are those who will continue to receive funding. The Arts Council is a public institution and receives public funding; therefore, its proceedings must be open to public scrutiny. I would urge the Flyer to pursue this story and uncover the truth. I urge all concerned citizens to demand explanations and demand the reinstatement of these programs. If the Arts Council had deliberately set out to hurt art in Memphis, they couldn't have done much better.
To the Editor:
For a number of years the Memphis Symphony has had a strong educational program which sends musicians, volunteers, and study materials into city, county, and private schools. We also send our Chamber Orchestra into county schools to perform educational concerts. We produce Young People's Concerts for students in the fourth through sixth grades, middle school students, and high school students.
The Greater Memphis Arts Council is a major funder of the Memphis Orchestral Society. Their financial support enables us to provide these educational services to students in Memphis and Shelby County. At the present time, we are constrained by a lack of sufficient funds to provide these outreach and educational programs for every student in the schools.
It has long been my opinion that the Greater Memphis Arts Council, which was founded to raise funds for the member groups, should do just that and should not be in the business of producing its own projects, however well-intentioned.
The Center for Arts Education, while a very fine educational program, is an expensive one. Those funds raised by the GMAC subsequently are not available to fund programs produced by member groups.
The Memphis Symphony is very grateful for GMAC support and is dependent on it to continue our educational programs as well as our other programs.
Martha Ellen Maxwell
To the Editor:
In the May 29th Flyer, school board member Wanda Halbert was quoted (Fly on the Wall) as saying, "The community needs to decide what it wants from its school board." She's absolutely right, and I'm sure I speak for most Memphians when I say that we know what we want from our school board. We want a board that is going to make sure we have qualified teachers who are provided with the necessary tools to ensure that our children get through school with the ability to read, write, and do arithmetic.
It is not the responsibility of our school system to teach our children respect, ethics, tolerance, or any of the myriad other things our children are being taught in place of the three basics. Our children will learn these things from the examples set for them by the adults in their lives, not from a teacher telling them how they should behave. So you see, Ms. Halbert, we as a community know what we want from our school board. And maybe when we get it we'll be happy to let you purchase ergonomically correct seating to use twice a month.
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