Five students from the College of the Arts spent March 18, 2015 in the state capitol advocating for the arts. Along with student advocates from several other universities across the state, Mariana Baquero, Jesse Fallen, Lindsay Kessler, Michael Polo and Amanda Schlachter spent the day speaking with legislators about the importance of arts in education and funding for nonprofit arts organizations.
Piper Call, College of the Arts executive secretary and executive director of the Florida Higher Education Arts Network (FHEAN), accompanied the students as they received awards and met with representatives Keith Perry and Elizabeth Porter. Assistant Dean of the College of the Arts Anthony Kolenic, School of Music Undergraduate Advisor Mutlu Citim-Kepic and Director of University Galleries Amy Vigilante were also in attendance. FHEAN President Brian Schriner presented the Certificates of Recognition for Advocacy in the Arts to the students.
“FHEAN member institutions nominate students to receive the awards and to support Arts Advocacy Day,” said Call. “FHEAN likes to recognize the student arts advocates.”
Student advocate Jesse Fallen brought a unique perspective to the trip, as he is a political science and economics junior with a minor in piano performance.
“Of course there is an incredible inherent value in the arts, but I look beyond that to the economic value and bring more reality to it,” said Fallen. “As artists, we know how it affects us, but we have to show how the arts actually create jobs and are good for the economy.”
Lindsay Kessler, a first-year master’s student in art education, said the highlight of the trip was the ability to speak one-on-one with Rep. Perry about changing the infrastructure of arts education in the K-12 system.
“We need to make a fundamental change overall toward art being more ingrained in core curricula,” said Kessler. “What they are doing in the government right now is what is going to affect us as professionals.”
Kessler said Perry was excited at the proposition and even spoke of potential legislation that will increase the amount of art in grade schools.
“I felt invigorated, and I felt heard,” said Kessler. “That was the moment where I was like, ‘This is why we’re here in Tallahassee.’”