Even though I have regular beats on my job like covering the towns of Pilot Mountain and Dobson and everything in between, I covered a Mount Airy City School Board meeting about a month ago and I heard something that night that really stood out for me. That was what board member Kate Appler and others said about how the arts should be more supported in schools and in the community — and I couldn’t agree more.
What Kate and those members said that night was that we need to look at the number of arts-related jobs that have come from students from this area versus how many kids who have gone on to a career in professional sports.
Board member Tim Matthews said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that kids don’t go to school to have football games, they go to school to learn.
Now, I’m not knocking football and I’m sure Tim wasn’t either, it does give students a sense of school pride, but I loved his point.
When I was in grade school and high school, I was that dorky band kid. I started out playing clarinet, then moved on to the baritone and even the bassoon. My senior year, I became drum major and, boy, I thought I was on top of the world. I had always looked up to drum majors, so to become one was my ultimate goal.
I eventually got a small scholarship to attend Appalachian State University to study bassoon, but I didn’t see a lot of career opportunities in that field, and my parents could not have afforded to pay the rest of my tuition to go there anyway.
That’s OK. By that time, I decided that I wanted to become a photographer. Luckily, I was also passionate about writing.
My point is, that even a dorky band kid was able to land a job in the arts, or at least what I consider to be an art form anyway.
This Saturday, I will be hosting the Opie Awards for the second year. Many of you may be saying to yourselves right now, “What are the Opie Awards?” They are awards given out to outstanding actors and actresses who have performed during the year at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. They give an award for the best performance and other awards such as the person who had the best improvisation during a performance.
Why is it important to honor these actors? Because it encourages these folks to pursue careers in the arts. I know several people from this area who have gone on to have successful acting careers. I couldn’t be more proud to say that I know Anna Wood. She has played roles on a number of TV shows including “Mad Men,” “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Brothers and Sisters.” She played a lead role, Claire, in the movie “Nice Guy Johnny.” This is a young lady who got her start on the stage at the Andy Griffith Playhouse and grew up right up the road from The News office.
There are also a few people who went to high school that ended up on TV as well, and I’d go on about them now, but I’m trying to make a point. And that is, that millions of people turn out every weekend to watch the big NFL games, but how many throngs of fans turn out to watch a marching band competition or even a local play.
Thankfully, this community does embrace its talent more than most, I’m just saying that it would be my hope that more emphasis be placed on arts in our community and in our schools. I’ve been told by a couple of choral and band directors that there isn’t a decent place in this area to host concerts. But, by golly every school has a gymnasium and a football field, that’s for sure.
Again, I’m not putting down the importance of sports. We need kids to stay active and healthy. I just wish the dorky band kids and actor-types would get more appreciation, too.
Mondee Tilley is a staff reporter with The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 719-1930.