Budget shortfalls impact Visual Arts classes


Recently, visual arts programs have had to creatively adapt and scale down the scope of their projects due to a lack of sufficient funding for the UA building.

Four sheets of white paper, scissors, glue, and wire. For students in the the high school’s visual arts department, simple items like these are often used to transform everyday objects into unique and creative art projects.

This year all high school departments have faced funding shortages. This has made the visual arts department able to show how they are able to be flexible and reuse materials in order to adapt to the current funding and continue to support their students.

The high school visual arts department offers a wide array of classes in which resourceful teachers collect and supply materials to ensure that all students are able to succeed and create the projects they want.

Donna Sartanowitz teaches nearly ten art classes at the high school, and over the years has learned how to modify lessons based on available materials and figure out ways to make sure she provides for her students.

“It keeps me on my toes and thinking more flexibly about the assignments. It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge that as an artist and creative thinker, I’m well prepared to meet. Thinking visually has allowed me to be able to roll with things well,” Sartanowitz said.

Visual arts teachers are able to adapt, which allows the department to continue to succeed and be a place where students can express themselves and take the lessons they learn into their mainstream classes.

Alicia Mitchell is the visual arts department chair and has been working at BHS for 17 years. Mitchell believes the classes that the art department offers are of great value and key to student success.

“Making is a human instinct, it’s part of being a human being. Art is who we are, it’s how we represent culture, tell a history, we get to share a point of view, tell a story, and learn who each other are by what they make,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell is proud of how her teachers have adapted their lessons, and been able to be resourceful enough that students have access to materials they request.

“One of the things art teachers are really good at is being flexible and resourceful. Materials that we may not be using will be made to use for a student. We take old pieces and recycling them to make new things. We work hard to improvise. Everyone on the staff is capable of doing it, so that’s how we get around it.”

Mitchell knows that her teachers are able to modify supplies so every student gets what they need.

“When you lose a little money in your budget say for example instead of a student getting to paint on a 24×48 canvas they may only paint on an 18×24 canvas. The team is very aware that it’s a shared amount of money,” Mitchell said.

Junior Sol Heo has taken six visual arts classes at the high school and thinks that it has helped them be able to destress in school and better their learning techniques.

“The art classes I’ve taken have helped me learn more visually since I’m learning those skills in art classes I’ve been able to also use them in my academic classes. It also has taught me how to be patient,” Heo said.

As a student who is currently taking advanced art classes, Heo has noticed how their teachers have worked hard to adapt in order to ensure that students can get the materials they want to use on their projects.

“If teachers don’t have the materials students want in the building either we can bring them in, or the teacher will work really hard to provide it for us. They also use their own time and money to get us supplies,” Heo said.

As the arts department continues to develop, teachers and staff continue to work extremely hard to support their students and make art classes well appreciated at the high school.

“The learning you do while making art is the kind of thinking you need to be able to solve problems in the real world. We provide a great way to provide those skills, as well as a lot of lessons on collaboration,” Mitchell said.