Bias in Budgeting?


With the fall play and winter concert fast approaching, more eyes are being opened to the problems with funding for the arts department. It’s no secret to anyone involved in theatre, music, or art, that money is a huge issue within that area, so why has nothing changed?


To start, here are some of the problems. The music department is completely broke. Currently, music students are holding a fundraiser to raise money for choir, band, and orchestra, because that is the only way they can find funding. It has gotten to the point where Mrs. Helming and Mr. VanDyke have begun paying for things with their own money. Also in the music department, Tri-County is now being circulated. Originally, choir, band, and orchestra got to go to Tri-County every year. Now, however, due to lack of funding, only one of these groups can go every year, so the opportunity gets rotated. Speaking of rotating, the music department has been recycling their music for years, rather than having the money to buy new songs.


As for the theatre department, there is no lack of issues. When students returned in August, they found a mouse infestation in the Set Shop. Immediately, Mr. Minor contacted the building services staff and asked them to deal with the mice. The response he received, however, was that he needed to go buy mouse traps and deal with the problem himself. The theatre department also can’t afford to buy the rights to big-name shows, so they are left with shows that no one has ever heard of, which hinders the amount of people that come to see them and reduces their ticket sales. There are a number of safety hazards throughout the theatre that have not been dealt with in years, including fire-escape lights and storage. The county doesn’t pay for their competitions either. This year, theater students will be paying over $100 to go to the Maryland Theater Festival, something that should be covered by funding. In terms of supplies, the costume director has to pay for all of their materials themselves. This year, alone, the costume director has spent over $400 of her own money for the fall play, unsure of if she’s being reimbursed by the school. It’s no different for the props managers either, who pay for any props needed in a show.


Miina Tarjamo (’18) is involved in both choir and theatre, so she knows exactly how those two departments are affected by lack of budgeting. “Well, the theatre and choir departments are basically broke,” she began. “A lot of the time in theatre, we’re coming out of pocket to get things that we need, like materials for tech to work with, and even costumes for shows, since what we have is pretty limited. We all work extremely hard to put together shows, and it’s a bit disappointing when our vision for shows isn’t what’s on the stage because of what we don’t have. For choir, we’ve had to give up different opportunities like trips, working with different conductors to help improve our sound, or performances and competitions because we just haven’t had the money. It’s a let-down when we aren’t able to have those different opportunities, because our choirs are extremely talented and we’re missing out on great experiences.”


The art department isn’t any different. Teachers pay for most of the supplies in their rooms, and sometimes students need to pay, as well, for extra materials. The photography class is currently working with limited developing stations because there is no funding to repair the multiple broken machines. Students’ experiences are limited because teachers can’t afford to give them the proper materials.


Sometimes the county just can’t afford certain things, of course, but lack of money isn’t the problem here. It’s the lack of budgeting. Sports do not face the problems that the arts department does. Just this past summer, the football field was redone. The football uniforms are replaced every two to three years, while problems in the auditorium haven’t been addressed since the school opened.


Last year, the school decided that the arts department must adhere to the same eligibility requirements as the athletes, which is understandable. However, if the school expects art students to meet certain standards to represent them, then the school needs to provide those students with the means to represent them well.