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Dr. Lance Gibbon Urges Districts to Sustain Arts Funding Despite Budget Shortfalls

Educational leader, musician and former music educator Dr. Lance Gibbon advocates preserving arts programs and urges communities to invest in arts nonprofits.

SEATTLE, WA, USA, April 20, 2023/ -- In the wake of budget challenges across Washington state, families and staff are rallying to save arts programs on the chopping block. Major cuts to the arts have already been announced in several Puget Sound area districts. In some cases, music programs have been cut in half, and jazz programs eliminated entirely.

Education leader, musician, and arts advocate Dr. Lance Gibbon is voicing his concern about this trend and calling on districts to rethink arts cuts and for communities to invest in arts nonprofits to help fill the gaps.

Dr. Gibbon makes the case that the arts are more than “nice-to-haves.” He is a proponent of the STEAM movement, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics. Dr. Gibbon argues that innovation and creative thinking will increase by integrating the arts and design with science and technology.

“I understand there are hard budget decisions,” Dr. Gibbon acknowledged. “But it’s time we recognize the arts as part of the core curriculum and – even more than that – central to what makes us human. The arts foster much-needed innovation, creativity, and collaboration while connecting students with the community, other cultures, and history.”

Dr. Gibbon believes the arts are key to students’ post-pandemic recovery and social-emotional learning. “Whether as participants or consumers, every student is touched by the arts,” Dr. Gibbon explained. “The arts ground us and offer healing through relationships and emotional connection that’s almost impossible to replicate any other way.”

Dr. Lance Gibbon says that for many students, band or choir is their primary social group and why they come to school. He observed this firsthand while, as school district superintendent, he volunteered to teach before-school jazz improv and covered the high school jazz band during its director’s paternity leave.

“Seeing the dedication and passion of high schoolers willing to show up at 7 am every day for jazz says it all,” he said. “Our music programs had a sense of family that attracted hundreds of students from diverse backgrounds and helped teach and develop countless relational and life skills they needed.”

Dr. Gibbon isn’t alone in his advocacy. Even Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis recently joined the protest against school music cuts throughout the greater Seattle area.

Where cuts cannot be avoided, Dr. Gibbon urges communities to invest in booster clubs and arts nonprofits to help fill the gaps. Dr. Gibbon is a strong supporter of JazzClubsNW, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting jazz education and live jazz performances in the region.

“The arts are more important now than ever for our students, and we must do everything we can to preserve these essential opportunities,” Dr. Lance Gibbon urged. “Our students’ well-being and their future depend on it.”

About Lance Gibbon

Dr. Lance Gibbon is a dynamic servant leader in education based in the Puget Sound area. Dr. Gibbon is a former music educator and was the primary keyboardist for the jazz fusion group Cascadia Groove and performed with jazz ensembles like A’Town Big Band. He provides student opportunities, cultivates connections, and promotes positive, inclusive learning and work environments. A passionate community supporter, volunteer, and board member, he was twice recognized as Community Leader of the Year.

Jessica Brown
Mercury News Media
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