OPINION: Never forget the arts: A response to Matt Bevin’s controversial comments

Kalyn Johnson is a columnist for the College Heights Herald. 

Kalyn Johnson


I’m wondering what it’s going to take for governor Matt Bevin to realize how important the arts are to a successful and diverse society. I’m wondering if he thinks his own degree in East Asian studies is useless. Does he think there are not many jobs out there for people who choose to study that subject? Bevin believes there are some degrees worth pursuing and others that are not because of how much money they make. However, money can only take a society so far.

According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Governor Bevin issued the following challenge: “If we’re graduating 250 people out of our engineering school … why is it 250 and not 1,000? And what are we going to do between now and 2030 and a whole lot sooner to make sure it’s 1,000?” It’s almost as if he has forgotten what it means to be an individual or to have an imagination. I cannot help but wonder what his favorite electronic is and how many people that made that electronic have a major, minor or certificate from the arts department at their college, university or trade school.

Bevin also commented “If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set.” What Bevin has failed to mention is this idea known as the double major. Oh yes, picking up a second major to complement the first or even picking up a minor to complement the major. Furthermore, his statement is troubling because the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook states that the job outlook for dancers and choreographers, which fall under the arts, is growing “as fast as average” which is 5 percent.

I understand the governor does not want the state of Kentucky paying for degrees that are going to fail at producing jobs that make thousands of dollars. I understand he’s trying to reallocate funds to cover the state’s pension. However, making negative comments about the arts has major repercussions. The arts are a part of what paved the way to the society that we currently thrive in, engineers and dancers alike. I believe Matt Bevin likes to belittle the arts to show the power of other programs, which shows me he has forgotten where he has come from: an arts background. He has forgotten what it means to freely read, write, dance, sing and imagine others in a complex way. He has forgotten that dancers, graphic designers, fashion designers and even writers help pave the way to a more diverse, complex and cultural state that is Kentucky.

Do not forget the arts. Never forget that writing, one of the major commutative foundations of our global society, is an art form. It is an art style that has the power to persuade, change and deal of good. I challenge all of us to look at the items we use on a daily basis and see the art that helped create and form them.