‘Julie’s Greenroom’ exemplifies the importance of the arts
This week, Netflix premiered a new children’s show titled “Julie’s Greenroom.” The show revolves around Julie Andrews and a cast of puppet children learning about the different elements that go into putting on a musical. Each week, Andrews brings out a different guest from the theater world to teach viewers about the unique skills required to put on an original musical. In the pilot, Idina Menzel takes the group of kids into the backstage of the musical “Wicked” to see how a show can come together. In another episode, Sara Bareilles teaches the children about how to write music for a show, and famed violinist Joshua Bell inspires the children to learn an instrument. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s” Ellie Kemper helps the kids explore the world of improv and Titus Burgess teaches the kids about the importance of costumes. More episodes include guest stars such as Carol Burnett, Alec Baldwin, and even a circus clown! When Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton announced that they would be creating this show, it was their hope that young children would have an opportunity to be exposed to the arts at an early age (as has been proven to be a tool in successful child development). On Wednesday, March 15, however, President Trump proposed to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as other venues that expose art to the general public. Organizations such as National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which sponsors television programs such as Sesame Street and other shows that defined my childhood) are also on the list to lose funding. President Trump does not see that the arts are a prime source of a child’s improvement in school, development of social and cognitive skills, and, of course, a reason for a child to have fun and be happy!
I cannot imagine my life without the arts. In fact, I remember every moment in my life through various musicals. I associate my car ride to the hospital as I got tubes put in my ears at age three with the cassette tape of “Annie.” I picture singing “Day By Day” from “Godspell” with my mom in the car as she dropped me off for preschool. Playdates with friends were scored by “Wicked” and “Hairspray” sing-alongs. As recent as last December break, I drove with my parents to San Francisco listening to the entire cast album of “Hamilton” from my phone. When I set foot on my first stage in an after-school program production of “The Wizard of Oz” at age six, I learned how to sing in front of an audience without being shy. I learned how to sing three-part harmony in “Bye Bye Birdie” at age 11. However, the arts are not just limited to what goes on in front of the stage.
Visual arts are also highly important to children’s development. Though I will never pursue it as a profession, art classes have improved my skills in painting and drawing. I learned how to see things from another perspective and in a different light. I learned how I can find art out of the most mundane of things and that our entire body is geometric in shape and design. People like Trump feel that there is more value in science, technology, engineering and math that is separate from the arts. From participating in numerous Brandeis Undergraduate Theater Collective productions, I can honestly say that without those who know how to build, configure and compute, there will be no show. Computers are being utilized more and more on stages every day creating innovating projections and even being crucial aspects to storylines, as with the current Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen.”
The arts combine every aspect of creativity that there ever is and ever could be. By eliminating funding from these crucial programs, children are deprived of potential opportunities that could lead to confidence boosts, a developed mind, and a mode of expression. In my humble opinion, art and theater are better than therapy. So please, Mr. President, think twice before you take away the ability for children to get creative and express themselves. Maybe you should get creative yourself and pick up a book once in awhile. I guarantee you that in the coming years, those of us who have pursued the arts will have made the world a better place just by using both our right and left brains.