In Junior High, Dee Dee Catalano played the violin. She was shy and playing in the school orchestra gave her a place to belong. “I liked playing the violin, but it was more rewarding to play in a group,” she says, “Plus, it gave me a social group to belong to, a creative outlet and something to excel in.”

In 7th grade, Dee Dee’s school closed due to budget cuts and the students were transferred. Her new school was nice and located in a safe, middle class neighborhood. They had sports teams, but no orchestra.

“I was very disappointed and it made me even more nervous about going to a new school. Orchestra would have been a way to feel more comfortable at a new school. I took private lessons for a while, but stopped playing around 8th grade because it just wasn’t the same anymore.”

Dee Dee’s experience is becoming the norm. In Washington State, access to theatre, visual arts, dance and music is not guaranteed even though the arts are a core subject and part of “basic education” and research demonstrates that study of the arts is an essential part of success in school work and life.

She wants to make sure that all students in our public schools have the opportunity to play an instrument, paint, dance, act and create. That’s why she and her husband are members of Arts Ed Washington.

“Not only do the arts help kids do better academically, they keep kids in school, help their emotional development, and give kids the outlet they need to grow and thrive. The work that Arts Ed Washington does helps to ensure that the arts remain an important part of the curriculum, especially in these hard economic times. Music should not just be for those who can afford private lessons.”

You can help reverse the trend. Renew your membership online now and help ensure all students in Washington State have the opportunity to reach their full potential by giving them access to an arts education.