I am writing in response to “Artists for Hire” (8/6). I do not read the Washington City Paper regularly but picked up the issue because Lori Wallace is a colleague of mine.
I did not understand the article. Was the point that kids would participate in an unorganized program as long as they were paid? What about the effort put forward by the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop to create and fund such a unique program? What about the insufficient number of summer programs available compared with the number of D.C. youths in need of a place to go and something productive to do for the summer? Lori Wallace says in the article that they are experimenting and trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t this year. I am also unaware of what kind of visual art or theater background Neil Drumming has that qualifies him to judge which activities are valid and appropriate teaching tools.
It is important to hold teachers and administrators accountable for what young people are learning. I appreciate the fact that you took the time out to write about the program and the experience that one young person in particular (Jeremy) was having. Finding fault, however, is not enough. It’s not very difficult to find fault. I say that because as an arts educator there are a great deal of programs in this town that I find fault with. Perfect or imperfect, I’m glad that people are out there trying to educate young people on how to use the arts to communicate their concerns and stories in an immediate and powerful way.
If he wants the quality of arts programming in D.C. to rise, I suggest that Drumming participate in some kind of solution. Maybe he could volunteer his time next summer when the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop does the program again? He could teach a journalism course and help the young people in the program create their own newspaper. He could teach them about the power of the written word to inform and influence public opinion.
Young Playwrights’ Theater of Washington, D.C.