The arts gave new meaning to life. We may live in a concrete world where almost every physical thing we see is defined but the arts allowed us to express our inner creativity and raw talent through various artworks and art pieces. These masterpieces often ignite powerful emotions within the people who see these works of art aside from them being visually appealing to the eyes. While some use the arts as an escape from the daily grind, professional artists make a living from the making of these beautiful art pieces.
The art today is a luxury that the elite often indulge in. Artworks are expensive and the common folks can’t afford such luxuries in life. Many of us do not understand the real value of the arts and how it has helped mold the society that we now know of today. So, it no longer comes as a surprise that funding for the arts is among the first to go when the government needs to tighten its belt and manage its finance better.
One of the great paradoxes of human endeavour is why so much time and effort is spent on creating things and indulging in behaviour with no obvious survival value – behaviour otherwise known as art.
Attempting to shed light on this issue is problematic because first we must define precisely what art is. We can start by looking at how art, or the arts, were practised by early humans during the Upper Palaeolithic period, 40,000 to 12,000 years ago, and immediately thereafter.
This period is a far longer stretch of human history than the “modern” age and so how the arts were practised during it should serve as the starting point for any viable explanation. And while art in the modern world is often exploited as a means of expressing individualism, during most of cultural evolution it was utilised by small hunter-gatherer groups as a means of articulating social norms among most, if not all, members of a community.
It is easy to understand why the arts has to go first when worst comes to worst. We don’t really see any economic value in them unless you own one and want to sell it. Artworks cost more especially if the artist has already passed away, by the way. But imagine living in a world devoid of the arts? It’s quite sad and boring, right? The arts serve as an outlet where we can express our artistic side, such as in dancing, ballet, painting, etc.
In an increasingly polarized society, arts education has become more important than ever. The arts teach students how to relate to others, communicate effectively and devise creative solutions to complex problems. They enable us to recognize that what we have in common is greater than what divides us.
Whether creating art for its therapeutic benefits, as an advocacy tool or for the sheer joy of it, artistic expression puts us more in touch with ourselves and the world around us. An arts education fosters a greater appreciation of other people, places and perspectives. In today’s complex environment, we need more support for the arts, not less.
Yet the value of the arts is increasingly under question, with federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts at risk, and the Minnesota Legislature debating the relevance of Perpich Center for Arts Education. As a graduate of Perpich Center, I firmly believe in the power of the arts to foster the very qualities that will help us to overcome these challenging times. My former classmates have gone on to become writers, computer programmers, actors, scientists, entrepreneurs, doctors and teachers. The arts foster thoughtful, creative and critically thinking citizens able to make a positive impact in their communities.
Connecting with others is easier despite our diversity with the help of our appreciation for the arts. Whether it is in the field of music, painting, sculptures, film or literature, the arts foster this understanding, so that we all can relate to one another wherever in the globe we may be. This love for the arts helped establish societies when no rules were yet set in stone.
It’s sad to see today’s leaders lose interest in the arts and not appreciate its value in nation-building. This openness is more crucial than ever considering how everything has gone global and we need to have that common ground when interacting with others that will hopefully unite all humanity amidst all our differences.