The visual and vocal arts may seem like fun and games at first, but it is serious business. The most limiting factor in success for programs such as Club Blue, Sound Unlimited, and Music Machine does not lie in talent, it lies in their wallets. Specifically, the lack of financial support is straining the arts, and it can push these programs to the breaking point.
Visual arts programs at BVHS are funded by a school-based system. The district supplies necessities such as instruments, music, and a certain amount of props while the ASB is in charge of providing uniforms (which are very expensive). Each program gets around $1,500 from the ASB, $500 from the school supply budget for instrument or prop repairs, and the rest comes from the visual arts’ own booster program, or a program that oversees fundraising. Ideally, a musical arts program needs around $40,000 to $50,000 per season for busses beyond district events, trips, extra materials, and other things. Trips outside of California generally cost an additional $25,000.
ASB can only provide a set amount of money based on how much money they made from yearbook sales or dance ticket sales.The district is limited by a budget defined by how much tax revenue they receive. The programs that can raise more money can afford extra staffing, clinics, and overall more useful things that will aid their quest to win, but programs that are lackluster in raising money will easily fall behind. If it were not for the hard work and extra time put in by the visual arts directors, BVHS would not retain its prestigious place in the SUHSD visual arts program! The system is flawed because the only way that these programs can get more money without raising money themselves is if the district advocates for higher taxes in the area or if ASB increases prices of all functions and goods they sell. In other words, the key to winning in visual arts programs lies in how well programs can raise money.
Despite successes in visual and vocal arts competitions, current funding must be increased to suit the level of competition these programs face. But even the most professional groups cannot function entirely without the necessary funds. The small fine tuning here and there makes a huge difference, especially when competitions hang on the line, and the visual effect scores are the deciding factor between 1st place and 2nd place.
Statistically, the visual arts programs here are among the most successful, not only in the school, but also in the Sweetwater High School Unified District. The band room is stuffed full of trophies and the Bolles Theatre is splattered with awards and plaques commemorating the successes of the vocal arts groups. Is it not reasonable to support winning programs that will ensure the prestige of not only BVHS, but also the SUHSD? Club Blue, Music Machine, and Sound Unlimited are all going on tours this year to play in distant venues where they also spread the school’s reputation. Giving students the chance to create memorable lifetime experiences should be an important goal of any school, and students should not be deprived of this opportunity because of a lack of funding.