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Letter: The arts are a necessity, not a luxury

Congratulations, and thanks to the talented cast, crew and orchestra of the opera “Hansel and Gretel” presented by Dr. Cory Renbarger at Bemidji State University this past week.

Bemidji has a remarkable, thriving arts community, from private teaches guiding our youngest, to school arts and quality high school programming. Community groups such as the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, Bemidji Chorale, Bemidji Area Community Band, theaters, dance and art studios and much more add to the mix.

Area churches contribute in every aspect as well. The partnership between community and university is wonderful. BSU students sing with Bemidji Chorale, community members perform with Opera Night ensembles, the symphony combines with Bemidji Chorale and BSU choirs, community members play in university instrumental groups. Students play in the community band and participate in dance and theater. Bemidji State students have represented us around the world. Choir and instrumental tours, jazz at the Dakota Club, pep bands at games. From the youngest children to our seniors, the arts are alive and well.

We need to continue this partnership. BSU must offer as much quality programming as possible to continue attracting the brightest, best, most talented students to our community. Restoring the theater program and expanded offerings in music and art are a must.

When finances get tough, the arts are usually cut first. The arts are not a luxury, rather a necessity. The arts reach the soul, are performance based, are discipline oriented, and create pathways to more easily learn and process “core” curricula. This rounded, all-inclusive approach has been embraced with much success in Finland, Romania, Japan and other countries. Perhaps we should take note.

Patricia Mason