Opinion: Let's Put Arts on the Same Pedestal as Sports

“I just feel like there’s this double standard that becomes that much more obvious when things like this happen.” Gabby Jones ’15 stated as she perused the list of homecoming week activities. She continued, “When people look back on us so many years later, they’ll be able to get a better picture of who we were through our art. Art reflects our culture, and shapes society just as much, if not more, than sports do.”

If that is true, however, then why is there such little attention paid to the arts here at Boston College? Attending a university like BC that affords us the opportunity to take a variety of classes. You would think, in light of this commitment to a wide variety of disciplines, that Boston College would recognize how the arts can really create a well-rounded person and strongly emphasize this idea.

To a certain extent, they do. They have their annual “Arts Fest”, support the many talented a cappella and dance groups on campus, and help to fund and publish the literary journals. They have knowledgeable professors who are willing to help out the student body as best they can. BC does do this and a bit more, I give them credit for that.

But I have to agree with Gabby and say the arts and artistic community are generally neglected here on campus. As someone who identifies herself as an artist, I feel that the resources available to me are significantly less than those provided for athletes. Where is the collective cheer for those alumni who have made strides in their artistic careers? Where are the weeks dedicated to celebrating, embracing, and furthering our student artists? The spotlight and publicity placed upon our student athletes is enormous and understandably so, but that does not mean that it is okay to simply ignore another part of the student body that is equally talented, just in a different way.

I am a photographer. I have seen myself as one for several years now, but I still have a long way to go in improving my skills. I know this, and being at BC, I also know that there are a lot of other very talented photographers who can help me and whom I can help in return. Yet, the resources available to me to better my photography skills are sparse. I happen to work in the photo department of Media Technology Services and, luckily, have access to some high quality gear.

Even there, though, it is lacking. There aren’t enough lenses for all of us, our office space is like a cave, and there are only so many cameras. Our studio to shoot and practice in is tiny and, while I understand that this isn’t the cheapest thing to fund, it deserves more attention, more credit, more respect.

That is what I feel is lacking. This respect for art itself.  It requires hard work, dedication, and practice. You have to put in time and effort to improve yourself as art is constantly changing. There has to be a passion inside of you to be able to stick with something that can be so utterly frustrating at times.

In a 2007 article from the Washington Post on the role of art in schools, our very own Professor Winner of the psychology department, along with Lois Hetland and two other collaborators, spoke on their study to uncover just what the arts really teach. They found that “students who study the arts seriously are taught to see better, to envision, to persist, to be playful and learn from mistakes, to make critical judgments and justify such judgments”. 

Blood, sweat and tears come frequently within our artistic lives as well, but how often is this recognized? How appreciative is BC of those who dedicate their time to honing their craft? What attention is given when a student has exhibited their work somewhere or has had it published?

We, at BC, supposedly stand for a well-rounded person and education. That is why our core is so extensive and why we have such a diversity of courses. It is why there is an ever-growing list of clubs on campus. No matter your interests, you are bound to find something worth pursuing.

If these are our values, then why are the arts neglected so? Arts Fest only lasts for a few days. Yes, the theatre productions are well-received and publicized, but the universal pull isn’t always strong. Yes, there are a few photography contests here and there, but the photos on display are not often looked at with the admiration that they deserve. Yes, there are student gallery openings, but the basement of Bapst does not do justice to these fantastic works of art.

I’m not saying that in order to respect the arts, there needs to be parades thrown and contests had. The attention given to sports need not be diminished. But it is necessary to acknowledge and congratulate the accomplishments of our student artists as well. All that they have done, either for their course of study or independently, cannot be simply ignored.

The Plex and Conte Forum have recently undergone some significant changes. The Yawkey Athletic Center seems, from an outsider’s perspective, to be in great condition. But the space and equipment for those involved with the arts can be improved. And how can BC come about funding for these potential changes? - through increasing the publicity and attention paid to current student artists’ events and ongoing activities.

By recognizing artists with the same love and respect as the athletes, events thrown by artistically-minded individuals on campus can attract alumni to come back to see the changes that have occurred. They can look back on BC as a place that is as holistic as they portray themselves. And we can take pride in knowing that we ourselves have learned something new and as a community are stronger together because of it.

Featured image courtesy of Gavel Media 

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