Arts programs across the nation are facing tough economic times, even though the recession is supposed to be behind the country. The Elkin High School band is no exception. It may be surprising that the music department funds most of its own activities and equipment through fundraisers rather than from funds from the state or federal government.
For example, for the New York trip coming up in April, music students sold doughnuts and Florida fruit to help pay for their travels. While a trip like New York does not happen every year, there are other expenses which do occur nearly every year. Those are often paid through other fundraisers locally, such as the Winston-Salem Symphony’s performance in November in Dixon Auditorium.
Community members can support the arts at EHS simply by attending performances here at the high school. Proceeds from that show were given to the arts department in order to fulfill their most pressing needs. Anytime money is available to the arts department, teachers Tonya Smith, Ben Bradburn and Adam Beshears work together to determine how to best allocate the funds.
The money from the symphony performance went to purchase acoustic shells for Dixon Auditorium so that singers and musicians are heard more clearly and accurately through the school’s sound system. Since that money benefited the music department, Smith explained that the funds from the next fundraiser will probably benefit the visual arts program in some way.
Smith explained that Principal Joel Hoyle values the arts and has always been supportive of monetary requests for unexpected expenses not covered through art department fundraisers.
Although the Elkin community also has supported the arts in school, a small school system like Elkin City Schools has a small budget. As a result, sometimes old equipment and uniforms take a while to be replaced.
As a disgruntled percussionist commented, “Broken drumsticks are taped [until funds to buy new ones can be found],” and broken castanets may wait for quite a while before being replaced at EHS. Percussion instruments in particular can be expensive to replace and are often damaged.
Buying new uniforms is also an expensive project. One marching band student described the uniforms as “too small and a lot of them have stains.” Some of the uniforms “have been pinned so many times they have holes.”
Despite the lack of funds, the EHS band continues to march on and thrill audiences wherever it goes. While their instruments may be old and the uniforms tight, their spirits are undimmed.
Jade Byerly, Gracie Gambill, Stephanie Kelly, Breanna Laws are English students at Elkin High School.