Eugene community helps bring art back to schools


EUGENE, Ore. -- School funding continues to decline and for many schools nationwide, art is the first to get cut.

It's a fight happening locally in Eugene and nationally.

Actor/Director Rob Morrow is part of The Creative Coalition that tries to get funding for arts back into public schools.

The Creative Coalition is a nonprofit created by celebrities and prominent figures in the arts community. They take on First Amendment rights, arts advocacy and public education.

Morrow says art saved his life.

He was exposed to the arts and theater in his public school system.

He says The Creative Coalition lobbies and brings awareness to the arts locally, nationally and sometimes internationally. He also says the facts show that money going into the arts comes right back out without a loss on the budget.

"Aside from bringing out our humanity, whether or not someone becomes an artist or not, the exposure to the arts opens us up to empathy and to our humanity," Morrow told us via Facetime. "Without that, the world would be a much bleaker place."

This issue is no different for schools in the Eugene 4J School District.

Last year the district couldn't get the funding for their artists residency program, so three local groups decided to pitch in. Once the Rotary Club of Eugene found out the district had to nix the program, they started raising money.

That's when Eugene 4J and the Eugene Education Foundation were able to help fund part of the program as well.

Ashley Reich, a 4th grade teacher at Bertha Holt Elementary, says, "We really took a hit last year so we weren't going to be able to have any artisan residents come this year until we had some pretty amazing donations."

Artist residents teach everything from ceramics to performing arts. For Bertha Holt Elementary, they're learning silk dying.

Eric Braman from Lane Arts Council says, "That's completely transforming the year for these students, that to go a year without meaningful arts programming really impacts the students experience in the school year."

It's a way to help teachers bring art back into their curriculum, an experience that I probably wouldn't get very often. The chance for an actual great artist to come and teach me art," says Ashley Reich.

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