Letters: From Local Arts Students to Governor Gavin Newsom: ‘Let Us Perform’
In response to Ralph E. Shaffer’s April 11 article, “Sports Return to High School. Why can’t the performing arts do the same? “
We want to be ourselves again. Our full self. Without the possibility of exhibiting our art and performing on stage, we remain incomplete.
Who are we?
We are SCPA: scholars. Citizens. Professionals. Artists. We are dancers, singers and performers. Directors, painters and poets. Actors, photographers and musicians. We are social activists, advocating for our voices and our instruments to be heard. We want an immediate return of the performing arts in person to all schools in California. We want to live our passion.
We are the student artists participating in the prestigious San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in the San Diego Unified School District. The SCPA is a Title I public school and is the only hearing-only educational institution in the city. Located in the heart of Paradise Hills, San Diego, we are the proud home of former and Best Actress Golden Globe winner Andra Day. We rank eighth in the state of California for diversity, and our school of the arts is in the top 20 nationwide. We auditioned and chose to attend the SCPA because it nourishes and develops our artistic talents. Art is what wakes us up in the morning and fuels our days and nights. SCPA allows us to refine our passions and explore our creativity. Our art is our history and we are the storytellers of the future.
After a year in quarantine, the time has come to tell our story. The time has come to Let us perform.
Thirteen months ago, after our first performance of “In The Heights”, our dreams of being on the main stage were interrupted by COVID-19. Our theater has turned black. The curtains came down abruptly as rules and regulations associated with the pandemic halted live performances. This lockdown of the arts continues today. Our stage remains closed.
The athletes were in the same boat until last month. They successfully stood up, spoke the truth to power, launched the Let us play and sued the State of California with the support of attorneys from Wingert, Grebing, Brubaker & Juskie, LLP. After two months, on March 4, 2021, the state conceded and agreed to settle the lawsuit, allowing the return of indoor and outdoor sports competitions to the high school.
Unfortunately, this return to the game does not integrate the performing arts. As the sport resumes, next month we will be forced to “stage” our production of “Misérables” on Zoom. We regularly have to dance and perform in ensembles in our living rooms and kitchens, before juries of professional artists and academic arts audition juries. It is no longer acceptable or necessary; we can safely resume the performing arts. Like the athletes who launched Let us play, we too want and deserve to play, and we are motivated to pursue the same course of action if we have to.
We, student artists, ask Governor Gavin Newsom and the State of California for the same treatment accorded to athletes. We deeply believe in equity and inclusion. The state is spending millions of dollars to provide free COVID-19 testing to all athletes before competitions to keep them safe. This can and should be done for performers as well. We will follow all necessary safety precautions set out by the CDC and the California Health Department. We are ready to wear masks on stage and to distance ourselves socially. If anything, we can be even safer than athletes, who often take off their masks to compete and are in extremely close contact with each other. It’s just that we have the same opportunity to do what we love and have the same level of resources to keep people safe.
We yearn for butterflies to be about to take the stage. For the buzz of the audience – even masked and spread out – while waiting for the orchestra’s first note to echo. For the final arch. For the standing ovation. To have the chance to be ourselves, ourselves fully, once again. Just like the San Diego athletes said Let us play and have been successful in restoring athletics statewide, we, the artists of San Diego, plan to do the same. Let us perform. #The show must continue
Artists San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA)