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United Students for the Arts

03.25.11 | 2 Comments


CATEGORIES advocacy, community, rabble rousing, social media, theatrical ecosystem, Uncategorized

It is a discouraging time to be a liberal in the United States. About every other day, I’m calling my representatives to ask them to stand up for the programming that I feel is vital to our quality of life — the National Endowment for the Arts, public broadcasting, women’s health issues, the clean air and water act, and so on. At the beginning of March, I was asked to voice my dissent in congress’ resolution to cut the entirety of arts in education funding.

It’s hard not to be discouraged by how futile all these phone calls can seem. (Particularly since Senator Rubio’s office goes straight to voicemail and then informs me that his mailbox is full.)  But if we stand together our voices can make a difference.

I was recently reminded of that by the story of Tatiana Becker and United Students for the Arts.  Becker is currently a senior at Ft. Lauderdale High School. Last year, she and her fellow drama club students were informed that due to budget cuts, the entirety of arts education programming was going to be eliminated at Ft. Lauderdale High.

Becker said, “That’s not possible.” She didn’t want to imagine Ft. Lauderdale High without a drama program, and spearheaded an effort to save it.

She organized the students (and their parents) in an effort to call local officials and made sure that her congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was aware of the issue. She put together an online campaign, including the website, a facebook group, a twitter page, and a youtube channel, printed t-shirts and wrist bands, and ultimately saved Ft. Lauderdale High School’s Drama program for future students.

One seventeen year old organized and activated a whole movement to save the drama club at her high school. Becker hopes that the movement will live on both in Ft. Lauderdale and beyond, as there is talk of making United Students for the Arts a non-profit organization with a national scope.

I tell Becker’s story in an attempt to rally our troops — as I know I’m to the place where the idea of making another phone call is exhausting. But the calls do count. It only takes about 20 phone calls to a state or local representative for them to believe the issue is important to their constituents, and about 200 for a United States Congressperson.

One person on their own might not be able to make a difference, but if that one person activates others, who knows what we can do?

Andie Arthur

Andie Arthur is a playwright and theatre administrator in Miami. She is the executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, the co-founder of Lost Girls Theatre, and the Florida Regional Rep of the Dramatists Guild.

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  • Our new Republican IL Senator Mark Kirk went against his party and voted to strike down DADT. I’m convinced it’s because most Illinoisans understand that DADT was nonsense, and told him so. It is possible to remind our elected legislators that they represent us.

    • Yes, but I wrote to Mark Kirk about the federal budget cuts and he responded with “sacrifices need to be made for the good of the country” etc… so we need to keep working on him!


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