State of Arts Education in rural Northeast Louisiana

Local News

The Northeast Louisiana Arts Council found that of the more than twenty-thousand children in public schools in rural parishes, nearly half have no opportunity to study arts.

A paint brush, a canvas, a palette of colors something many area kids in rural parishes never even get a chance to use. 

The Monroe postcard mural is a major feature of the city of Monroe, but artist Brooke Foy says without her school art education this may never have been a reality.

“Not everybody can do the sciences. Not everybody can do the maths, as well as everybody else,” Foy said. “I think anyone who has interest in art today starts somewhere when they’re little.”

Sterlington High School teacher Leah Reitzell chose her career because she first fell in love with the arts in high school.

She says there’s no limit to what a good art program can do for a child.

“Creativity is so important to a child. Being able to express themselves with their hands and let them create and use those upper level thinking skills. It’s so important,” Reitzell said. 

The president of the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council says without more funding, the future of the arts is in danger.

“If they don’t have the opportunity to express themselves through art, we’re short changing our future,” said NELA president, Barry Stevens. 

A recent study conducted by Clemson University shows students in the arts have lower dropout rates, higher GPA’s, and better test scores, something Art Education major Elysabeth Peoples knows all too well.

“Since I did have it, I’m a lot more confident in myself and know that I can make something out of this,” Peoples said. 

If funding doesn’t change Brooke Foy says a lot more could be in jeopardy.

“Essentially we’re just crippling them,” said Foy. 

Foy says she hopes parents encourage creativity in their children. 

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