Petitioning Governor Tom Wolf

Better Funding for Performing Arts Programs in PA Schools #Don'tDreamItBeIt

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My name is Olivia Rose, and I am a student of Danville Area High School in Pennsylvania. Ever since I was 8, I have loved the realm that is theatre. I have been graciously a part of 9 musicals with local theatres since then, including 4 with the Danville Area High School Preforming Arts Ensemble. What I have noticed about the shows that my fellow classmates have worked months on to perfect for the community is that frankly, we are a little under appreciated.

For Danville especially, we as of now do not have the resources available to present a show big enough to get everyone in the community excited for. As you may know, you need more than just space, talent, and cast size to pull off any musical. You need money too. Renting scripts, getting rights for a show (and the more well known the show, the prettier the penny will be to do it), and purchasing resources for set all make up the financial end of it. I could get into more expenses, but you get the point- musicals are not cheap or easy! 

To say our school's drama club is well funded would be a lie. While other schools have done "Grease", "Hairspray", or even "The Addams Family Musical", we have been stuck with little money, thus only being able to do more obscure shows. As you can assume, the community doesn't exactly get really excited for these musicals. People want to see the classics, or at least a show they've vaguely heard of. Fellow Danville students only come to see our shows for the incentives of extra credit promised by teachers. Sets, costumes, and everything else also come into play. This creates a never ending cycle, unexciting musicals are done with no funds, and no one comes to watch, giving us little profit. I can only imagine this issue is worse in other Pennsylvania schools, (especially urban schools that aren't well funded to begin with) who may have had to get rid of their theatre programs. 

Aspiring actors and actresses of this generation need a foundation to perfect their talents. Auditioning for the school play should be encouraged highly, the drama program should be funded as equally as the athletic department, and each school should have some sort of music or theatre class. Theatre can definitely change lives. Additional funds to the performing arts in schools can help influence and inspire youth. This will also encourage the community to gain an experience in the arts and culture when they come to see the shows produced by said schools helped with this extra money. 

This epidemic is growing in Pennsylvania, and for kids like me who want to pursue performing arts as a career, this is a catastrophe. Very few take us seriously for our career pursuit as it is, and neither will our school peers or communities if this issue goes unnoticed. Pennsylvania hasn't delivered a famous talented actor since Will Smith, and with the lack of encouragement in our schools it isn't hard to see why. Whether this problem is solved by leveling out school funds to be more equal or proportionate, or state funding, the arts need to be embraced and funded, not laughed at and left destitute. 

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