When school programming is cut, which kind of schools in the US cut the arts? Schools who don’t have the money. Why don’t they have the money? Their community cannot afford to pay more taxes to fund the school programs, to build new schools, etc. Similar situations also happen in the UK.
A recent study out of the UK found clear inequality in the arts, with divisions by socioeconomic status and ethnicity. While this research is particular to the United Kingdom, it is reflective of larger cultural norms, all of which support or sustain this inequality.
This divide creates and promulgates the elitist feeling we’ve discussed here before on Artist Strong.
So, yes, we know about it; but what are we doing to change it?
The arts are a universal human right. We need to take measures to help our institutions bridge these gaps.
People are reaching out to try and make a difference. I’m thrilled to hear in the very same country people have launched a Get Creative campaign to encourage and promote people from all walks of life to engage with the arts. It’s not necessarily about everyone choosing the arts as a profession, more importantly, it’s about helping people integrate the arts into their everyday lives. The arts can inform our outlook on life, improve our health, and help us become better problem solvers.
Around the world, people are recognizing the importance of creativity, even in my neighbor and once home, the UAE. This article speaks about a survey done in the MENA region that selected the UAE as one of the most creative countries for the region. The largest obstacle for most to engage with creative interests? Money.
I get it. When people are struggling financially, they have a focus on foundational levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy: “How can I pay for my housing? How can I take care of my family?” It’s hard to consider the importance of art in the lives of people who need to get food on their table. And yet, I’m arguing that is when it’s MOST important.
We need to open people’s eyes to the artist that lives inside them. Creativity is a skill that grows, develops and strengthens with use. It is also a means to develop resilience.
People think art has to be expensive. It doesn’t. You can easily write with pen and paper. You can dance to music on the radio. You can draw or sculpt with amazing and simple materials. People just need to be presented with these alternatives to think outside the box, to ignore cultural norms, and do what we all feel called to do. Create. In fact, those are the very voices we need to hear and listen to most.
Some of the best advice I’ve read or heard comes from Steve Jobs. He encouraged people to have lives with varied experiences. Why? The more varied a person’s experiences are, the more creative they can become.
By being open to new and different experiences, our mind can make connections and have ideas we could never think of before.
I moved around a lot as a kid and I still remember my parents talking about which towns to move to based on the quality of the public education in that town/city. I had a life of privilege because my parents could afford to give that to me. I attended schools with hugely impressive arts and music programs. Those teachers fostered my love of the arts. How many families can afford to make that kind of commitment to their child’s education?
Then, I remember the day we had to start over; my parents’ lost everything. We moved into a small home in a new state, starting over. I remember the fear in my parents’ eyes trying to pay each bill, wondering if they could make it and take care of me. That fear and uncertainty clouded my adolescence. But, my desire to make art became a wonderful escape that taught me resilience, compassion, and how to be more humble.
My family’s ability to encourage my art, despite their personal and professional struggles, is why I’m here today talking to you. They knew the arts gave me a place of peace, comfort and a means to develop inner strength. My parents realized it’s power for me, even if they wondered how I could ever make it a career. The arts are a means of understanding the world around us and are a means to help me comprehend my world, as both young person and adult.
The arts are a tool for communication that everyone can use to connect and engage with the world.
Making art as a writer, dancer, or painter is a choice. That inner voice calling you to create is a guide calling you to live your life fully, embracing the very quality that makes us human. Start today by being an example for people in your life. Draw a mandala, or doodle with loved ones. Choose art today.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Choose your own arts-based interest and find an inexpensive way to engage in creative play. Let’s make today’s comments a resource for everyone looking to be more spendthrift but who still wish to celebrate their artistic interests.
If today’s article resonates with you, join me on March 4, 2015 for a free live webinar to learn how to draw your own mandala.