Tuesday, June 30, 2009

[Not dead, only vacationing] "Justifying" art

While I was vacationing, I opted not to blog or tweet, so I'm sure you enjoyed the holiday from my rantings as much as I enjoyed being away.

But I'm ba-a-a-ck--and with a vengeance!

Today's New York Times had an article about the debut of PBS's "Nova" series premiere on the topic of "Musical Minds," based on Oliver Sacks' book.

While his intent is probably not to justify the value of music in society, it will inevitably add fuel to the fire of those who have all but given up hope that it is possible to make the case for the arts based on their intrinsic value. That is, there are too many people who will never buy into the "art for art's sake" argument, so let's demonstrate to them that the arts will put a man on Mars (i.e. art & music boost math & science skills).

I've never bought into that approach, but I do admit that it can be more quickly effective with some whom we believe will never "get it" than taking the time to really make them understand the power of the arts (or, better yet, providing them with a transforming arts experience).

So, when time is of the essence (and when isn't it?), I've "slummed" by taking that path of least resistance in speaking with people about why the arts are important.

Shame on me, but it was expedient. I hated doing it, though. It's not what the arts are about, but after a few generations during which our nation has failed to provide any arts education and limited arts exposure to schoolchildren, we shouldn't be surprised that leaders don't understand any of the basic vocabulary.

It's time to change that.

No comments: