Arts & Culture: Diversity Dialogue

Cultural Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts in New York State’s Southern Tier

The Arts and Me

I was born in a culture and into a world where i was told that showing your feelings or being creative was a sign of weakness. That still remains a factor in the lives of young children today. But ever since I’ve been living here in the Southern Tier I have not had to worry about people wanting to hurt me because of what I’m involved with or who I’m involved with. When i was growing up in Washington DC, there was not a lot of “artistic” activities I could be involved with for the simple fact that they were not available in that school district. But in 98 when my family moved back to Corning, I started taking flute lessons, I joined chorus and I was involved with theater. I now major in flute studies, I teach flute and I work  as a Color Guard instructor. And the list goes on and on. And all of this was possible because I “Jumped out of my comfort zone” as my flute instructor would say. Years ago i would never imagined myself doing what i am doing now; as i stated previously where I was born, it was not artistically sound and if you wanted to be creative or had the slightest interest in it you were considered weak. I pity those who feel that way because the Arts are a good way to meet friends, make important contacts and for those like me it’s a way to enjoy yourself and “escape” from all of the drama that finds you somehow. For me the Arts in general have been more of a “life line” for me because there have been times when I have been really depressed whether it was losing a loved one or just something not going right, If I needed to get away from it all even if it was only a short amount of time I could pick up my flute and practice my anger away or pick up my flag, rifle, sabre or baton work on a routine I’m currently learning and put all my anger/frustration in to my dancing and use it to my advantage. As i close my final words are: “Don’t Knock it till you try it” for you never know how it will affect your life.

About mcgrady21

Hello My name is Adrian McGrady I'm 21 years old and I'm a student at Mansfield University studying Music with an intrest in Business and performance

3 comments on “The Arts and Me

  1. Connie Sullivan-Blum
    January 7, 2009

    I am glad that you’ve had a good experience in the Southern Tier. I do think that many children, especially boys, are raised not to express themselves. Somehow self-expression gets interpreted as weakness or self-indulgence.

    Last year, before Juneteenth in Elmira, The ARTS co-sponsored a panel discussion called, Let’s Talk about Color. One of the participants said that he had received a lot of encouragement for his involvement in sports, but very little encouragement for his artistic involvements. I think this needs to change.

    Educators and parents need to become aware of the skills that artistic achievement gives to students. Drama, dance, and music teach cooperative skills. There is nothing as team oriented as putting on a class musical! Other arts teach skills that range from problem solving to self-discipline. All of these are trumpeted in sports as “leadership” skills, but in the arts they are frequently ignored.

  2. Maria Driscoll McMahon
    January 13, 2009

    Adrian, it is wonderful to hear that you were able to find yourself and to express yourself in such a rich and rewarding manner. It seems to have been possible only because of what was perhaps the chance accident of relocation. The administration, school board, faculty, staff, parents and students of Corning schools are to be congratulated!

    Needless to say, not all talented young people who live in this country have discovered the same nurturing environments. In some districts, a “trickle-down effect” is in place whereby an enlightened administrator creates or enables an atmosphere within the district where the arts are valued, encouraged, and even integrated throughout the curriculum. In these districts, arts teachers are recognized and supported for the work they do in the classrooms, in their own studios or on the stage. Fortunately, we have several districts in the GST BOCES region which fall into this category. An exemplary example of one of these districts is the Arkport Central School District overseen by superintendent, William Locke. Mr. Locke is not only an avid perceiver of the arts, but he has also performed as an actor and vocalist in many productions of plays and musical events throughout the region. Arkport teachers express great satisfaction in working in the Arkport Central School District and many students have been inspired to participate in the arts either as perceivers or makers – performers, musicians and visual artists.

    In other schools, a robust arts program is generated on a “grass-roots” level where there may be the right combination of personalities in the art department or a critical mass of students who make a particular art form popular or “cool.” Sometimes a parent or two can have a tremendous impact on the health of an arts program and the very culture of the community. Thus, we have schools with art curricula that resemble junior colleges while other schools barely fulfill the minimum requirements for arts in education.

    Recognition plays a key role in the success of any program. In some schools, the halls are lined with glass-encased trophies of athletes from decades past, whilst the student who wins a gold key in the current Scholastics Art Competition gets nary a mention in the current school newsletter. Precocious students who display an aptitude for the arts can lose complete interest by middle school if they attend a school where art is devalued. Conversely, in schools with a lively and rich cultural life where the arts are celebrated and honored, students can acquire a love of the arts in the upper grades and go on to excel as artists or become life-long perceivers of the arts. (Indeed, the arts enrich and enhance the lives of everyone – not just artists!) Everyone interested in children should urge schools and local newspapers to publicize the achievements of art students and artists within the school and community. Honoring the arts in the curriculum – and arts students – can change the course of a young person’s life!

    Lobbying for arts funding, educational resources, professional development opportunities for teachers and insisting on the visibility of the arts, artists and arts students in both the schools and community is all our responsibility. We owe it to our youth so that exemplary young men like Adrian McGrady can aspire to a future which finds them productive, responsible, self-actualized citizens who will go on to inspire and lead the generations which follow.

  3. Connie Sullivan-Blum
    January 14, 2009

    I agree that we must lobby for arts funding – please consider going to Albany on February 3 for the Arts Day rally. Legislators pay attention to issues when they know that their constituents are passionate about them.

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This entry was posted on January 6, 2009 by .
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