Involved in the Arts, Involved in Life (And why we need Arts Education!)
October 20, 2010 § 1 Comment
"Who doesn’t believe that communities in which people care about their neighbours, take pride in their surroundings and are prepared to roll up their sleeves to make things better are healthier, happier and a whole lot more pleasant to live in?" Well, George Osborne, apparently. Osborne was appointed as Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer in May of 2010 and is responsible for all economic and financial matters of the Parliament, and ultimately, Britain. Recently, Osborne has proposed massive budget and funding cuts for the UK’s cultural and artistic organizations. Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s Cultural Minister has seemingly given up the fight for saving this funding, which leaves only David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, in the way of this catastrophe. The funny thing is, David Cameron has been supporting the idea of a "big society" for years. His idea is that government should encourage citizens to become active members of their societies, fostering volunteerism, and philanthropy-and also potentially lots of hugging, warm fuzzies, and Kumbaya-ing-seems far fetched to some. But is it impossible?
Not with the arts! According to a study by Britain’s Arts and Civic Engagement group, people who participate in the arts are more dedicated to civic involvement and betterment of their communities than those who are not. DUH. People in the arts know this. We have been telling everyone else this for decades. Perhaps event centuries. But I digress….The study found that arts participants were not only more dedicated to the improvement of their communities, but "they tend to have a better understanding of other cultures, and to be active in civic, religious and political activities. In short, they’re model citizens."
Regardless of whether or not you agree with Cameron’s "Big Society" idea, (And if you do, the conservatives in Congress would just accuse you of being a Socialist anyhow) how could you not at least agree with the idea that having arts in your community will improve it? Clearly, those who oppose it (George Osborne, I’m talking to you) have not experienced the arts first hand. They do not understand the impact that the arts have in our lives, how they motivate us to be better people, to make a difference in our communities. If this situation isn’t the perfect example of why we need arts education in schools, I don’t know what is. Obviously, once we have reached adulthood, it is much more difficult to convince others of why the arts are important. But if we can start early and expose kids to the arts all the way through life, perhaps we can have a chance of putting to rest the fight about why the arts are important and relevant to our lives and society.