If you follow the trends on Twitter, you’ve probably seen that a job ad backed by the British government has recently sparked a huge backlash on social media. The poster shows a young ballet dancer, alongside the caption: “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber. (she just doesn’t know it yet),“ below the slogan “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.” The reason the ad has been (rightly) criticized by the public is that it seems to denounce the cultural industry. Plus it appears at a time when the arts are facing a severe crisis. Because this isn’t the first (and will certainly not be the last) time this discussion is led, here’re my thoughts on why the arts matter.
The Arts encourage critical thinking
The Arts encourage us to think creatively and critically, to ask questions, to see things from the perspective of others. Texts, songs, paintings, they all invite us to find meaning in them. The best example of this might be literature. Books don’t speak for themselves, but it’s your job to connect plotlines, make sense of metaphors, or recognize underlying themes and motifs. Reading always also means thinking, analysing, interpreting.
If you think of a society without the arts, without cultivation and without ideas that come from the arts it will undoubtedly be a much less agreeable and much less civilised place, and I have no doubt whatever that we behave in a much better way because of the time we spend with the arts.Sir John Tusa, British arts administrator, and radio and television journalist
The Arts challenge our perceptions
The arts have a huge cultural impact on what we think or believe in. They often hold up a mirror to society and help us see the world from different perspectives. They open up discussions about our moral standards and social values. They raise awareness about social, cultural or environmental issues. Ever wondered why in most dystopias books are banned? Reading means knowledge. And knowledge is power.
The Arts entertain us, comfort us, distract us
Especially in times like these, many people have turned to the arts for support. Reading books, watching movies, or listening to music are a form of escapism for many people. Let’s be honest, without the arts, most of us would stare at a blank wall at home.
Art offers tools for living – to console or delight or enrage or challenge or revitalise dulled perception. Art, above all, is a collaboration between artist and audience.—Hari Kunzru, Novelist
The arts connect us
The arts connect people within, but also between, cultures. They help us better understand and empathize with other people. They’re an important part of both individual and collective identity.
The arts are creative and emotional outlets
The arts allow us to be creative, to find new ways of communicating or transporting a message or emotion. A society without creative minds would ultimately be a brave new world.
“Civilisations are judged and remembered not by their most successful businessmen but by the art they leave behind”–Kwame Kwai-Armah, Actor and playwright
I could probably go on here, but I think I’ve made my point clear. If you ever find yourself doubting why the arts matter, just imagine a society without them.
What do you think? Why do the arts matter? Let me know in the comment section below!