Ballet is an art. Nobody will argue with that. Not everyone is gifted with the grace and class of a ballerina. It takes years of hard work, discipline. and dedication to perfect the craft and perform as a world-class ballerina.
Unlike sports that appeal to many because of the limitless options, ballet is for those who have a refined taste. Ballet classes are also expensive and only a handful can get into prestigious ballet companies. Most successful ballerinas also started early in life, with most of their adult life consumed by their passion – to dance and perform in front of people.
As an African-American soloist with the United Kingdom’s Royal Ballet, Eric Underwood says he is often asked why the ballet world isn’t very diverse.
It’s complicated, Underwood says. Race, income, social hierarchies and other factors often conspire to create a situation that excludes people of color from serious pursuit of dance.
“I feel that because you have to start training as a youngster, it’s the responsibility of the parents or society’s responsibility to introduce children to it,” Underwood says. “A five-year-old child would find it very difficult to come and say, ‘Mom, I’d like to dance.’”
Not only that ballet is a career for some and a recreation for many but it also creates jobs and revenues that propel the country’s economy forward.
Yesterday, Lincoln Center — the world’s largest performing arts center, which famously hosts the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Juilliard, and much more — published an open letter defending the National Endowment for the Arts against Donald Trump’s threats to defund it, despite the minuscule amount of money it takes to keep it running. The letter first draws on the personal — and thereby social — import of the arts:
A child’s early introduction to ballet teaches strength and discipline. A veteran’s exposure to art therapy brings healing and hope. A student’s participation in music class improves math scores and critical thinking skills. Art shapes achievement, with profound and practical effects.
But it doesn’t only speak in compelling human terms; it plunges, rather, into pragmatic, monetary terms that, say, a real estate tycoon-turned-politician might perhaps understand:
Still more, art anchors communities. In American cities and towns, arts institutions and districts are breathing life into neighborhoods—attracting investment, spurring development, fueling innovation, and creating jobs. Arts and culture help power the U.S. economy at the astounding level of $704.2 billion each year.
But ballet is now threatened by budget cuts from the new administration along with other areas of the culture and the arts.
Leaders of local cultural institutions are anxiously awaiting a decision on cuts to federal arts funding as reports claim the Trump administration is considering defunding or eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for Humanities.
Federal funding supports a diverse swath of local arts programs, from Aspen Film’s Shortsfest to Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s tours, from artist residencies at the Aspen Art Museum and Anderson Ranch Arts Center to high-profile events at the Aspen Music Festival and School and military veterans’ wilderness therapy excursions through the nonprofit Huts for Vets.
Grants from the feds help arts organizations educate, create and share art with the community and the world. But the money, leaders said, is less important than the statement that America values the arts and humanities.
“It impacts every community in some way, even if it’s a little, and the symbolism that our leaders have their finger on the pulse of the arts nationally is hugely important,” said Aspen Music Festival and School President and CEO Alan Fletcher. “And thus, the symbolism of saying ‘We don’t care about it’ is hugely important. It should be maintained.”
The art sector will greatly suffer from such a drastic and unprecedented move from the new president. The industry relies heavily on government funding to continue their passion in sharing their love for the arts. It will also result in an increase of ticket prices of ballet shows or other artistic presentations so that all costs are covered.
In the end, it will not only affect those who are directly involved in the arts but the state as well. This budget cut is also in violation of the law that says the citizens of the state should have access not only to a good education but to the arts and humanities too.