Arts and educated Caymanians

Anyone who knows me knows that besides being a drama teacher for the past 16 years, I live and breathe artistic expression.

I write, I direct, I paint, I write songs, I sing and most recently, I have started taking a dance class with Barnes Dance Academy.

When I was in high school, I was not necessarily performing well in all of my subjects, not because I lacked ability, but because I got bored with people talking at me and because I learn by doing.

My practical classes were the ones I excelled in, and that at least gave me the boost of confidence to know that I was good at something, even if I struggled with mathematics all through my education.

When I got to college, I did choose to go the artistic studies route, but I really excelled in all of my subjects, graduating with a 3.98 GPA from New York University with a MFA in Fine Arts.

I believe that the arts play as important a role in education as any other subject, because in this climate of inclusion, those students who do not excel in one area of education should have other choices that match their personality and ability.

Even if you are not going to choose a career in the arts, it is important in this stress-filled life to have an expressive outlet, hence my wonderful dance classes. And it really does work. My students tell me I am only half as miserable as I used to be. (Smile)

Drama builds problem solving skills, vocabulary, self confidence, public speaking skills, the ability to empathise, cooperative skills, leadership skills, quick thinking, creative thinking, physical coordination, body awareness and control, personal responsibility, budgeting skills and too many more things for me to mention here. The visual arts, dance and music, offer even more opportunities to develop as a well educated Caymanian.

Any of these skills would be valuable to a career in law, education, public relations, tourism and retail etc. But the most important function of the arts in this country would be as a most powerful tool to preserve, share and pass on the unique heritage of the Cayman Islands and its past, while documenting the changes in the culture of our home as people from other countries become an integral part of these Islands.

Notice that I put heritage before culture.

That is because I believe that anyone who recognises and seeks to preserve the way things were, has a right then to become an accepted part of this culture.

If you shun what is our past, then you have chosen not to integrate yourself and will therefore feel like an outsider. It’s really your choice.

In closing, I would like to invite anyone who has been touched by having the arts as a part of your education to write a letter to the editor and tell your story.

Thank the teachers who made those classes possible and share your personal story.

Let’s lobby for more support for the arts from all institutions that are responsible for providing arts opportunities in this country.

Nasaria Suckoo

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