Too Little Support for the Arts

Thanks to Randy Lewis and The Times for the article about the cuts in the budgets of our arts-related school programs ("Music Cuts in Schools a Sad Note," Calendar, April 16). I was one of only two speakers from Orange County who appeared before the National Commission on Music Education at Cal State Los Angeles last fall. Such notables as Wynton Marsalis, Steve Allen, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland had gathered to express alarm at the state of the arts in our schools, which were facing elimination as budget cuts tore at the soul of our society.

Lord Chesterton said, "Journalism is there to tell us Jones is dead, even though it didn't tell us he was alive." The Times laments the programs that are being cut or eliminated but did little to support these programs in the past. To wit: Virtually every major city newspaper in the nation, including The Times, has a daily sports section. There is always a writer assigned to "prep sports." Every major newspaper in the nation also has an arts section, but few have a "prep arts" reporter who can report on the activities of young choral groups, marching bands, jazz bands, theater groups and all those talented teens who are the performers and the audiences of the future.

I urge The Times to immediately start coverage of our scholastic and community musical units. How about a "prep arts" reporter? Next time a parade includes a high school marching band, how about speaking to the photo editor and urging him to show us these young performers? How about a review of a high school choral concert or Broadway show or a marching band contest? How about selecting a "young musician of the week"? How about saluting the hard-working professional music educators who've made the performing groups in Orange County some of the best in the nation? Help us in our time of need. The Times can help convince the general public that arts programs are indeed important.



Mr. Berish is publisher of World of Pageantry, a newspaper for high school marching bands, drill teams, drum corps and pep squads. Editor's note: The Times Orange County Edition, every Thursday in the View section, publishes a "High Life" page of articles on high school arts, sports and scholastic activities, written by high school students.

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