Prop 49 supports the arts | SierraSun.com

Prop 49 supports the arts

With art, sometimes it’s not so much about the end result, but rather the process.

At least that’s how one local muralist feels.

“It’s really about, ‘Are we having fun while we’re doing this?’ because that’s what art is really all about,” said Susie Alexander-Georgeson.

For the last five weeks, Alexander-Georgeson has been teaching one group of Sierra Mountain Middle School students to find enjoyment through art while helping them create a mural of their own through the new Club Radical program.

“When I asked them what emotions they wanted to convey through the mural, they all wanted it to be happiness, which I thought said a lot about this project,” she said.

The innovative after-school enrichment program for middle schoolers offers students access to a variety of art, music, dance and sports activities and classes, as well as a constructive, structured way to spend their afternoons.

When voters head to the polls in a little over a month, they’ll have a chance to vote for a proposition, which many feel could be instrumental in expanding and keeping programs like Club Radical up and running.

If approved, Proposition 49, could create $400 million in state grants for after-school programs at more than 6,600 public schools throughout the state.

“Arts enrichment is key for our children and Proposition 49 could play a key role in making that a reality,” said Kris Norris, an independent contractor working with Tahoe-Truckee Community Foundation to increase culture and the arts in the area. “Especially during these difficult economic times, when money is often hard to come by and school district’s are forced to make cuts, arts programs are typically the first to go. [Proposition 49] is great because it could help us be able to secure permanent funding sources and offer these types of programs without bogging down the school district’s budget.”

According to the Proposition 49 Web site, funds for proposition would come from incremental growth in state revenues, rather than new taxes, and would not start accumulating until at least 2004, by which time the State economy will hopefully have regained some solid footing.

Currently, Club Radical is funding largely by donations and “800 different grants,” Norris said.

“We’ve been working very hard to do cultural affairs work in the community, and line up arts enrichment opportunities for our kids,” she said. “And so far, we’ve had an overwhelming response from the community. So many people have come and volunteered to help out, teach classes and organize this.”

Norris added that time and time again, studies have shown the benefits that these types of enrichment programs have on students academically.

“Children who participate in the arts, regardless of what kind, are better learners,” she said. “It teaches them a different way to absorb information and stimulates other parts of their brains. It also encourages them to be future arts patrons.”

Alexander-Georgeson agrees.

“I think these types of activities are extremely important, particularly for kids at this age, because now is the time when they tend to become much more inhibited about expressing themselves,” Alexander-Georgeson said. “When kids are in kindergarten, they just do it without caring what anyone else thinks, whether it be art or music or theater. But when they get to this age, they become much more self-critical and often stop doing these types of creative type activities. We’re trying to keep that from happening.”