Arts ed and fundamental well being and development

By Eric Booth

Yes, Richard. I keep scrabbling around at the granular level of arts experiences for the huiman essentials we purport they provide. I find things like developing a healthy curiosity about differentness (a cultural necessity with our changing demographics), a capacity to make strong connections between literal and abstract realities (in a culture that is belligerently literal and commercial), the ability to reflect and play well, etc.. At the first UNESCO worldwide arts education conference (Lisbon 2006), the clear message of need and demand from around the world was "creativity"--with heads of state asking that of arts educators and saying their nation's future depended on it and us.

In his keynote at the National Performing Arts Conference this summer, bestselling business guru Jim Collins remarked that to succeed in turbulent times, an organization (business or arts nonprofit) must deepen its commitment to core values/beliefs and experiment boldly in ways to fulfill them. He then said that people in the arts think the traditional arts canon of artworks is our core value/belief, and we are wrong. Our core is the perhaps inarticulable but strong and abiding reasosn humans have engaged in "art" since day 2 of human history; the attachment to the canon of artworks is a traditional means of achieving such goals, and is exactly what we must experiment boldly away from to rediscover relevant and valuable reasons for art to be in our culture.

Eric Booth

December 1, 2008 5:01 AM | | Comments (1) |


Departing from the "traditional arts canon" may be another way of saying that one can be adding to the canon of the future. Art is, most essentially, a unique form of creative expression, and each contribution furthers the evolution of the field. As we bemoan the lack of arts education in schools, we miss the opportunities that children of all backgrounds and economic circumstances are embracing to fulfill this intrinsic desire to create - and the commercial record, film, television, and technology industry capitalizes on it in our absence. As ideal as it would be to have skilled, creative, and highly-motivated teachers presenting well-funded, standards-based art in every U.S classroom (and all of us should remain committed to that goal), what happened to funding opportunities for parents to take their children to age-appropriate, culturally-relevant, affordable performances in accessible community venues? Are we allowing after-school options to dwindle while we pump money into research and demonstration models to bolster our case to school officials? I would caution against losing sight of the plethora of touch-points that the arts can capture with young families if the end goal is to increase the demand for the arts while the debate rages on about the value of the arts in the schools.

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This Conversation For decades, as teaching of the arts has been cut back in our public schools, alarms have been raised about the dire consequences for American culture. Artists and arts organizations stepped in to try to... more

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