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Singer Jessye Norman on the Importance of Arts Education

Award-winning American opera singer Jessye Norman has a big problem with declining arts programs in America's schools. Hear what she has to say in this PBS Newshour interview.

Watch her interview here.

Though this interview is from 2014, Norman's statements strike a chord today more than ever before. As public schools budgets seem to dwindle and teachers strikes have sparked across the country, some of the first facets of public school education to be cut are the arts. Norman is troubled by this sad truth, not only because studies time and again have proven the arts positive impact on a child's education, but also the opportunity to become more of a whole person. "We mustn't sit by and have another generation of students without the benefit of the education of the arts," she says, "...what we would like to do is build whole people."

The impact of arts education cuts can be seen locally in the Omaha Metro Area. As we see the need for arts education to grow, many organizations in Omaha, including Opera Omaha, Civic Nebraska, KANEKO, and the Rose Theatre, are offering more community engagement opportunities to reach children in ways they've never been before. Opera Omaha has developed the Holland Community Opera Fellowship program not only to bring opera to more of the Omaha community, but also as a way to supplement the music education in schools. And, as the need for arts education continues to grow in Omaha, so does OCC.

OCC is excited to offer two rehearsal locations in the upcoming season, one in North Omaha, and one in South Omaha, to better serve more of our neighbors and communities in Omaha. The rehearsals also take place on different evenings to better fit with family schedules. Our hope is that OCC will be a supplement to the music education our singers are receiving in their schools, and that every child has a place to sing, learn, and be exposed to exceptional arts education - a goal that we hope is within reasonable and timely reach.

Here's to you, Jessye Norman, for all that you've done and what you've encouraged us to do. We hope arts education, both inside and outside of school, can help make all of us whole people. Be sure to check out Norman's memoir, Stand Up Straight and Sing.