By MANDI STEFFEY
Marvin Curtis, the dean of the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the arts, was recently inducted into the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. Among other things, the members of the CBCI helps to shape policies involving different matters in politics. Certain members in the CBCI are chosen on the basis of their resumes and are representatives of the various companies they work for. There are many positions in the CBCI, but Curtis has been inducted into the Executive Committee, which has representatives from Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, Coca-Cola, Colorado State University, McDonalds and Pepsi.
“Alfonso Pollard, who is the chairman of the committee, invited me,” said Curtis. “He is a musician, so he was interested in talking about the arts.”
Curtis is very excited to what this could lead to. As a member of the Executive Committee, he will be a part of writing policies and plans to be sent up the political chain, sometimes even reaching the president. Each member of the Executive Committee has different interests they would like to politically reform, but Curtis’ interest might be easy to guess: the arts.
“One of my goals in this position is to spread the awareness of the importance of arts education,” said Curtis.
Curtis plans to use his repertoire as a professional in the arts industry to showcase the importance of arts in the educational system.
For the past decade, educational budget cuts have forced some schools to cut what Curtis says is known as “frill” courses. These frill classes are generally things administration might find not as necessary as the sciences. The cuts usually come down on arts courses, including music, fine arts and communication programs.
“In budgets across the country, the arts are getting cut,” he said.
These cuts are problematic for Curtis. As a musical composer with a professional position at a university, Curtis knows that art courses and arts education can lead to a satisfying career.
“People undervalue the arts,” said Curtis. “Most nations are known for their artwork.”
“I mean, I have a satisfying life, and I’m an artist,” he said.
These ideals will help Curtis shape policies involving arts in the educational system. Potentially, these policies could be seen by politicians with the power to change policies. Curtis hopes his input will lead to a change in how the arts are valued in school systems.
As well as the possibility of careers, the cutting of arts programs worries Curtis because he views these cuts as a cut to the culture of the kids who can really benefit from arts education.
“It’s those arts classes that really teach students how to think,” said Curtis. “It’s about the creative process.”
“Art is culture. If you take away those programs, for people like me, you have nothing representing the culture,” he said.
Curtis will be attending conferences four times yearly to meet with others from the CBCI. Most recently, he visited Myrtle Beach in March.