Despite National Art Budget Cuts, LHS Art Funding is still Strong


Luke Ekdahl

Many schools across the nation continually fight for the funding of art departments. However, for LHS, the Fine Arts department receives a large budget that keeps the programs in place and running strong.

Maya Trott, Staff Writer

In many schools, funding for arts is a contentious subject. For LHS, the fine arts department is supplied with a large budget to keep the arts programs alive. The fine arts department at LHS includes art, music, and theatre.

Every February, Mr. Dustin Helvie, the Fine Arts Department Supervisor, has to submit a budget for approval. Within this budget, there are subsets of different categories that the money is given towards.  

“We have supply budgets, so that is like our daily supplies like music, valve oil, rosin, folders, that kind of things. So stuff that we’re using every single day. And that also goes for art supplies [too], so film, paper, paint, clay,” Mr. Helvie explained.

Other categories in the budget include capital equipment, which is equipment that costs over $1,000, and repair for items that need to be fixed. Professional development, which allows teachers to attend conferences, and professional services, which allows the department to hire professionals such as piano tuners and accompanists, are also areas included in the budget. In addition, there are separate budgets for large-scale productions such as the musical and Orchesis.

The reason for separate budgets is that there is only a certain amount of money allotted to each area.

“The district gets audited occasionally, so we’ve got to make sure that we have kind of all of our t’s crossed, our i’s dotted, to make sure that we’re taking, you know, if this is an actual supply that’s been taken from supply budget,” Mr. Helvie elaborated.

Even though LHS is able to fund an art department of its size, this is not always the case locally or nationally. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) often do not have enough funding to support comprehensive art departments. Recently, Chance the Rapper, who is a Chicago native and attended CPS schools, gave a donation of $1 million dollars to CPS to help fund art programs, according to Rolling Stone magazine. Following Chance’s pledge, Chicago Bulls President Michael Reinsdorf announced the team will also donate $1 million dollars to CPS, said the Chicago Tribune.

Not only are arts in schools often underfunded, but there have been many worries among the public about national art funding as well. In mid-March, President Donald Trump released his proposed budget for national spending. Within this budget, many cuts were proposed that would affect different programs that supports arts.

According to The Washington Post, the budget “calls for the elimination of four independent cultural agencies — the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

This would affect many groups, such as the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.

President Trump decided to allocate more money to defense spending, which required cutting the budgets of these arts programs. Congress has not yet voted upon the budget.

Mr. Helvie believes LHS is lucky to have the funding that it does: “I can tell you that we’re very, very fortunate with our funding. The district is very supportive of what we do and that also speaks highly to the board because they value arts education in our community.”