Members of art-focused clubs debate whether unequal distribution of 2020 City of Carmel Arts Grants is justifiable

(Submitted photo) In January, the Art Club hosted a Bob Ross event. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, all of the events planned for Art Club and the National Art Honors Society have been cancelled.

Lexi Carter

(Submitted photo) In January, the Art Club hosted a Bob Ross event. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, all of the events planned for Art Club and the National Art Honors Society have been cancelled.

Valliei Chandrakumar

Earlier this month, the City of Carmel, in accordance with the 2020 Arts Grant Program, donated $3,500 to the Carmel High School Orchestra Parents Club. The CHS Art Club and National Art Honor Society (NAHS) received no financial support from the organization although a majority of the clubs’ funds come from the pockets of the members.

Alexandra “Ali” Strznyski, NAHS member, Art Club member and sophomore, said while there is an obvious inequality, it is possible that club size plays a factor. 

“It is interesting that the City of Carmel doesn’t really provide anything. I think a reason for that might be (CHS art clubs) are very small,” Strznyski said. “And, a reason for (CHS art clubs) being small is that not many people know about them.”

Jennifer Bubp, NAHS and Art Club sponsor, said the clubs are smaller, community-based ones. 

“My hope is that Art Club is a chance for students to see that their passion for art can serve people. They can use their talents for something bigger than themselves,” she said.

Michelle Lu

However, Alexa Barreras, NAHS member, Art Club member and senior, said despite all contributing factors, the unequal concentration of funds is unjustifiable. She said the price of many materials weigh a heavy burden on whether or not a student is able to explore certain types of artistic techniques.

“I mean, I definitely think (the distribution) is unfair. Like, orchestra is a very important program and like I said, performing arts and arts, in general, are very important but the arts in particular… all the materials we used cost a lot of money and they’re usually really expensive, so the fact that they gave more money to the orchestra—which, again, I don’t want to keep saying that they don’t deserve it cause they do,” Barreras said. “The instruments are very expensive and hard to take care of and I know from personal experience because I was in orchestra. But (only the orchestra receiving funding) is really unfair.”

Strzynski said oftentimes, for community-interactive events, the members paid for essentials apart from art supplies.

“I think a lot of members, me included, have to provide our own materials. Like, for our Soho Show. Unfortunately, that got canceled, but all of us would have to bring in our own food for that show,” Strzynski said. “We have to supply really everything ourselves. We don’t get any funding (to supply the shows) so we have to pay for it ourselves.”

Barreras said due to the lack of funding, Art Club and NAHS is focused on fundraising events rather than creating circumstances to grow as an artist. 

“We don’t get as many other opportunities to do different things. Most of the stuff we put on is to raise money for the arts programs,” Barreras said. “Some of the things we want to explore and do with different materials is limited to us…”

Strzynski said due to the COVID-19 situation, the clubs’ fundings did not take any hits.

Lexi Carter
(Submitted photo) In February, students in Art Club created coloring pages for kids attending their district art show at the Carmel Clay Public Library. More photos of the event can be found on their Instagram, @_chs.art.club

“The club is holding up fine. What we usually do is put up art shows and really help with art activities around the school,” she said. “Unfortunately, the big projects for March were canceled just because of coronavirus. So, we haven’t really got to do anything lately. So, funding hasn’t really impacted us because all our events were canceled.”

Strzynski said the art clubs’ unpopularity and ability to get by go hand in hand.

“I think if it were a bigger club, funding would be a huge issue. I don’t think it’s good that we don’t get a lot of funding but because of how small (the club) is, I don’t think it’s an incredibly big issue if that makes sense,” Strzynski said. “Like, we’re able to manage because of our size but if it was any bigger, that would not be good.”

Strznyski said the boost of more funding would result in more opportunities to express passion and hard work.

She said, “I think if the clubs had more funding, more events for ourselves and for the public would be able to be put on because a lot of the events, you know, we fund ourselves so that would help make them bigger and better.”

Click here to view the Art Club’s Instagram page.

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