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When the Budget Gets Flushed, Will the Art Teacher Get Wet or Stay Dry?

Article By: Elaine Hilbert
Editorial and opinion

"Budget cuts," it's the new buzz-phrase of 2010. What would you do if you taught art in a public school? This article gives two solutions to a tightened art budget, and five keys things to think about for the survival of the creative.

Submitted:Dec 21, 2010    Reads: 85    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

With an ever-decreasing art budget, where can an art teacher go to secure supplies? As an art teacher myself, I have discovered two easy ways: scavenging and bulk buying.
Art teachers are a strange breed. No matter how slim the budget looks, [and trust me it's looking rather post-Jenny Craig-ish] the creative and perhaps slightly unusual art teacher starts looking at things around themselves to make something into art. I've had students make jewelry out of natural materials gathered from around the school grounds. Viola! free materials, and our grounds and maintenance staff have less to trim or mow, see, win-win! [One word of caution on the use of natural materials: Girls may freak out over those little creatures that come along for the ride. Be prepared for some recognizance.]
Of course another material- hunting solution is to make use of online bulk buying, as this is generally a great way to find great prices for the supplies generally not found on a general bid list. Many websites offer great pricing as businesses fight over getting a buyer's attention. Since jewelry is a passion of mine and my art budget is getting trimmed down like a marine's first hair cut at Paris Island, I have decided to research bulk buying, specifically in the area of jewelry supplies.
For some adorable seed beads, wooden beads, plastic beads, beading thread and jewelry supplies and tools I would check out: www.laneejewelrysupply.com. The selection is small, but the prices are perfect for bulk buying. Most, if not all of the prices beat Dick Blick and Sax put together!
A fellow art teacher made a really good point upon my question of "What do you think will come of our Art Department?" My colleague so poignantly stated some basics we should all make note to remember:
1. In order for others [a.k.a Administrators, coworkers, and the public] to take notice of the positive things we do, we must be willing to show that we are team players in the spiraling budget flush by not throwing a fit as if you were a nine year old that didn't get the Zhu Zhu Pizza shop you wanted.
2. Using your creative and often down right strange artistic mind, find new and potentially interesting medium to create art, outside of purchased items. [If MacGyver can make a bomb out of chewing gum, a tooth pick and a Q-tip, just think what your students could do with them!]
3. Search for better deals, and buy in bulk. [www.laneejewelrysupply.com]
4. Get positive news articles written about the things your art students are doing. If your students win a gold key at the scholastic art awards, tell EVERYONE, including your uncle Bob!
I will be bold and follow these four ideas with one last thought: Keep your chin up, keep breathing, and worst-case scenario, start up your own website, marketing budget art supplies.


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