North Carolina leaders understand the importance arts education. The STE[+a]M team in San Diego is moving forward with efforts to inform and persuade our local and national leaders to include the arts as part of a national education strategy for our country.  We must not focus solely on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

This 10-minute documentary video on the impact of arts education presents the personal experiences and opinions of 16 North Carolina leaders across many fields. Former Governor James G. Martin reminisces about his years as a tuba player in Charlotte and Davidson. NC State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee talks about his early training as a singer and orator. Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker remembers his childhood role as a street urchin in a Kennedy Center production of “Carmen.” East Carolina University’s Chief Surgeon Randolph Chitwood, who also heads the ECU Heart Center, explains how his early training as a photographer has led him to the innovative use of digital photographs of the heart, while UNC-Chapel Hill Chemistry Professor and Dean of Arts and Sciences Holden Thorpe explains the value of arts training in applying science to address the world’s problems. Triangle Community Foundation Executive Director Andrea Bazán-Manson talks about her earliest memory of folk dancing in her native Argentina.

This documentary also features comments by former Fayetteville Mayor Marshall Pitts and brother Myron Pitts, a Fayetteville Observer columnist; former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl; NC Senator Tony Rand; NC Representatives Becky Carney and Rick Glazier; Fayetteville State University Chancellor T.J. Bryan; Executive Director Sterling Freeman of the Wildacres Leadership Initiative; and East Carolina University’s Athletic Director Terry Holland. Former Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., makes the powerful case for arts education as a means to cultivate imagination, creativity, and innovation in North Carolina’s 21st century economy.

Students in art, music, dance, and drama classes at Carrboro Elementary, Northern Durham High, Hickory’s Sweetwater Elementary, Raleigh’s Ligon Middle, Asheville Middle, and Charlotte’s Hickory Grove Elementary Schools help illustrate the vitality of arts education in North Carolina.