Elementary school arts program braces for funding cuts


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After outrage over Albuquerque middle schools doing away with sports, another program is concerned about how budget cuts will affect local students.

A nonprofit is launching a campaign, asking for people’s help to save arts education.

Despite having a waiting list of classrooms eager to participate in this program, the nonprofit released a video Friday afternoon to announce that without help, it will actually have to cut the number of classes it works with.

“It would be really tragic to see arts programs like this, where kids gain so much, not be funded,” said Deanna Cook.

Her daughter, Maeve, participated in a theater program in school called, Wrinkle Writing.

“I learned how to be a better writer,” Maeve said.

First, elementary school students learn how to write a play.

“We get to make the play. So no one is bossing us around, telling us what to do,” said 11-year-old Marcos Martinez.

Then, the kids are in charge of everything from costumes and props, to the big performance.

“It’s their words, and it’s their story and hundreds of people are cheering and clapping,” said Blackout Theatre Company Artistic Director Jeffrey Anderson. “I had one girl one year come off stage, and she had this look in her eye and she told me, she said, ‘I didn’t know my words could do that.’”

Artists with Blackout Theatre Company spend a year working with students in each class.

“This year we’re working with about 700 students, which is 28 classrooms around [Albuquerque Public Schools],” Anderson said.

He said that there is a waiting list, but instead of adding students, they could cut 200 because of looming county, state and federal funding cuts.

On Friday, they posted a video online launching a fundraising campaign, saying if they can raise $16,000 by May 12, they can avoid leaving behind 200 students.

“People are kind of frustrated about the budget right now and maybe this is an opportunity to put your money where your mouth is,” Cook said.

The artistic director said it costs about $100 per student, most of which goes to pay for the outside artists to work in the schools for the year.

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