Why Arts Education Matters
Art plays the long game. We’d talk about arts education as it relates to test scores, but no such correlation exists. We’d discuss arts education and how it’ll give you an edge in the modern job market, but there’s not much data to support that, either. If you’re looking for these things, we guarantee that you will walk away disappointed. Truthfully, there aren’t many practical applications to the arts or arts education. A painting is not going to resuscitate the dying (in one sense) or build homes for the homeless. But trying to quantify art’s impact on practicality is misunderstanding its usefulness. Trying to convince people of art’s intrinsic and existential benefits seems to fall short, too (though we will try). There are no tangible results and no impact on the economy or on job creation, because art has no stake in these things. It is likely that art education will only make you a better consumer of art, a more thoughtful thinker, someone who is more whole.
So what do we mean when we say art plays the long game? Arts education nurtures us over a lifetime; it’s one of the easiest fields to experience outside of a classroom, and one of the most difficult to understand and appreciate within one. If you’re confused by The Persistence of Memory or Ulysses, you're not the first to feel this way. Art entices and frustrates us, and we think that this, most of all, is why its utility is both impossible to pinpoint, and, more importantly, an unnecessary endeavor. Asking why arts education matters misses the mark, but those who ask the question are most in need of an answer. And those who are best qualified to answer will not have one for you.
Art as Value
We are talking around an impasse because you will not find a way across in five hundred words. Nor will you in ten thousand words. Maybe on another day if you asked us why arts education matters, we would tell you it doesn’t. Not in the sense you’re looking for. At the same time, arts education, we believe, is the most important human endeavor we should hope to undertake and preserve. It is the embodiment of the human spirit, the commitment to telling the story of change, of loss, of family and of culture. Preserving and expanding on what art is and how we talk about it is at the root of what it is to be human. Work, utility, construction: these are what we achieve. The arts are why.
If you’re here to be convinced of something you’ve already made up your mind about, we can’t help you. But if there’s a suspicion, a very small but compelling and almost unsettling feeling that the arts, in some capacity, in some strange way, matters to you, for whatever reason, follow that. It’s a wonderful place to start.
We hope you enjoyed this article by FactSumo. Check out our learning deck on reading music notes here.