We Love ISB Sports, but Let's Shine Some Light on the Arts by putter ratana-ungkool

ISB has five turf fields, 12 tennis courts, a 400-meter track, and even a climbing wall. And one high school art room.

It’s hard to step inside ISB and not notice the sports facilities and accompanying culture this place has to offer. Athletics has long been a crucial aspect of ISB’s curricular offerings, and to be involved in it is something that many students strongly desire. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you are or have been on one of the sports teams during your time at ISB.

On a varsity team?

Great, get ready for a giant poster of yourself to be hung on the walkway of the breezeway ahead of IASAS competitions.

MVP of your team?

Even better. Prepare to walk up on stage to receive your well-earned award during the sports banquet.

ISB Athletics

The perks of being on a sports team at ISB are tremendous and rewarding. Additionally, they give students a sense of belonging and sometimes even an elevated reputation among their peers. But while our attention is drawn towards all the fun and excitement that sports offers, it sometimes feels like we’re depriving attention from another considerable aspect of ISB … the arts. Though ISB tries its best to balance the emphasis placed on its sports and arts programs, it nevertheless feels like sports are in the limelight much more often, which projects the sense that athletics are more valued. The amount of attention allocated to these two equally valuable cultures at ISB seems very imbalanced.

Mr. Kentaro Udagawa, ISB’s high school band teacher, says that during concerts, “theaters often fill up, but most of the time, it’ll have more parents than students attending.” And even during the recent MUN showcase, “most of the audience consisted of the MUN participants and maybe a dozen parents,” notes Mr. Anthony Giles, ISB’s director of Arts, Activities and Community Engagement. This is despite the endless advertisements for the MUN showcase. To be fair, this is not the fault of the ISB faculty and administration, as “equal resources and budgets are invested in both the arts and sports programs,” he says. In fact, his office has promoted upcoming arts events in the e-news 297 times since August, he says. Overall, it's pretty evident that the school is doing its best to equally promote both sides of its programs, but this issue seems more like a phenomenon that arises from the student body instead.

To be fair, the majority (including me) naturally take more interest in activities that allow for the expression of excitement, which would help to explain why sports sometimes steal the spotlight from the arts. The energy that comes from the crowd when a goal has been scored in a football match or when a game-winning point has been made is difficult to replicate with other events at ISB. These feelings are what spark the vast interest in sports as they are activities that promote social gatherings and a sense of community. “In my opinion, sports find more success in gathering a crowd as matches and games can be hosted much more frequently and simpler than, let’s say, a band or strings concert,” Mr. Udagawa explains. The ease of hosting a sports event significantly contributes to its success in gathering a crowd that is excited to attend. And when you compare this excitement in sports to arts events like a concert or a MUN debate, they are polar opposites.

Many of these factors really steal the light and attention that art is supposed to have in the first place, and it’s a real bummer as there is so much knowledge, creativity, and talent that art students have to offer. So how can we change this? How can we inject ISB’s arts program with the community excitement it deserves? Mr. Udagawa optimistically suggests adding food vendors to arts events. And that’s not a bad idea at all.

Photograph by Kimiko Hashizume

But when “people don’t come in the first place, I don’t know how to get people excited,” says Mr. Giles. Well, if it's difficult to bring students over to these events, why not bring the events to them? In other words, we can generate excitement by exposing students to these arts events through more showcases. Maybe we could have a pep band performing during the half-time break of a match. Or hang student paintings and other visual art in more populated areas of the school. And what about incorporating arts activities into classes? Or having arts students design and create the sports team posters? Invite more artists as guest speakers? All of these are potential ways to grow awareness and excitement about our rich arts offerings and about our talented artists, performers and creators. If you're reading this, please check out what ISB arts has to offer and help celebrate these students.

Cover art: "Attuned Duality" by Caitlin Riechert

At right, "Afternoon with Princess Antoine" by CC Yuddon