Through my recent involvement with, the Island School Council for the Arts, a local not-for-profit organization that enhances art education in schools, I had the opportunity to think more how art affects our lives.
Imagine for a moment a life without the arts:
We would all be wearing the same boring clothes, driving the same non-descript vehicle, eating tasteless food, sitting in front of blank TV screens with no movies to entertain us, we wouldn’t be able to sing along our favorite songs or dance the night away… you get the picture.
Some form of art is everywhere in our lives. Artists make us think, wonder, laugh, cry. Artists color and shape our world and make it more livable, more enjoyable, more memorable. In one sentence: “Art adds value.”
Nobody could have said it better than Steve Jobs: “Technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us results that make the hearts sing.”
Art promotes peace because art is a universal language that connects all humans regardless of our geographic origin or religious beliefs. Art is protest; because art has often been the only way to critique oppression. As one example: comedy makes us laugh, but it also reminds us of our flaws.
So if we can all agree that art does enrich our lives and adds value to our economy and that science, technology and business alone will not advance humanity, why is it then that cutting the funding for art education is even a consideration?
Maybe it is because there is the incorrect notion that art classes are designed to produce the next Walt Disney or Tim Burton and therein lies a fundamental misunderstanding. Let me quote the violinist and teacher Shinichi Suzuki: “Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”
Just like coaching soccer promotes collaboration, discipline and preparation, so does singing in a choir or rehearsing a play. Sports teach other lessons like fairness, getting over a loss, and the arts teach lessons about using your creativity, expressing yourself, having the guts to perform in front of an audience, etc.
So for all your sports fans and science buffs, the next time you have a chance to expose your kids and yourself to arts: “Just do it!”
And to our town council members, I encourage you to make a multi-use art and conference center a high priority. Maybe we can get Kroger to become the name sponsor for it: “The Kroger Community Center.” I think that has a ring to it.
Especially in this world, we need more art in our lives to connect us, to find common ties and goals; to accept and celebrate our differences and to find ways to solve our problems beyond what science and technology can do.
Art makes us human and makes our lives worth living!