The arts have been around for ages now. The arts have been a source of entertainment for audiences as well as the performers/visual artists themselves. The arts have been something that makes people laugh or cry, or feel inspired and ultimately, make them feel something when they walk out of that room. Aside from what it brings to the audience that attends, it brings that much more to the artist. These artists get to do what they have poured their heart and souls into. The blood, sweat, and/or literal tears that performers and artists go through to get to where they are, is incredible. The arts are so important to many, and have benefits outside of the element of performing and creating itself.
All art has the same thing in common: It is an outlet for individuals to explore themselves, their minds and bodies, and see what they are capable of and what works for them. It also helps people build their self-esteem. Not only is it beneficial to their confidence and happiness, it also allows them to have better skills in both academic and real world settings.
There are many articles and studies that state the importance of the arts, especially an arts education. In an article by the University of Sydney, they state that “students who are involved in the arts have higher school motivation, engagement in class, self-esteem, and life satisfaction, researchers discovered.” When your self-esteem is boosted, you feel more motivated to be engaged in what you’re doing and want to do well. This can ultimately bring you satisfaction in your life. The University of Sydney’s Faculty of Education and Social Work collaborated with the Australian Council for the Arts in a study where they that exposure to an arts education provides individuals with more motivation in their life in all aspects, especially in school where individuals in the study had more confidence and participate more in their classes. Having this confidence boosts their self-esteem and allows them to be excited and want to participate in what they are doing. Research by Daniel H. Bowen and Brian Kisida has found that increasing students’ arts education throughout the Houston Independent School District “reduce[d] the proportion of students receiving disciplinary infractions…increase[d] writing achievement…and bolster[ed] students’ compassion for others.”
Being a performer myself, I of course find the arts and an arts education important. However, there are many who do not. For those who feel the arts aren’t “important,” I hear you. I understand that some may find the lovers of the art to be “preachy” and pushing the importance onto them when it just really something that interests them. Everyone finds interest in something. Some people will like things that others don’t, and that’s okay, but there is a difference between not liking something but appreciating what it does for others, and not liking it and diminishing its meaning or worth as a craft, which leaves those who feel the importance of the arts trying to defend their craft.
In my senior year of high school, I had my own experience of the arts being looked down upon. A video from a rehearsal of my last high school show got around to members of the football team at our school. Messages were sent around talking about how “stupid” the show was and asking “why would anyone put so much time and effort into something so meaningless?” This, of course, enraged members of our show. Not often is it even questioned as to why athletes put so much time and effort into what they do. Athletics are important to them as the arts are to me and my peers involved in it—it is not meaningless to us. Even a time as recent as deciding what major I want to pursue in college, there is still judgment and disapproval from those who don’t understand the importance of the arts. When I tell people that my intended major is in dance education, there is a tone of confusion or degradation. I have even had someone say to me “wow, that’s a useful major” in a sarcastic tone, implying that what I love and want to pursue was meaningless or useless.
When I receive feedback that is negative toward the arts, and especially what I want to do with the arts, it makes me want to push even harder to get to where I want to be in my career. A huge reason for me continuing my major in dance education is so I can give back to others what the arts have given me. The arts have given me a judgement-free outlet to explore myself as an artist. Being involved in the arts has also given me a newfound confidence. I went from being a very shy little girl who would’ve never been caught onstage to someone who couldn’t imagine her life without performing, and has confidence in her performance and in leading her own dance rehearsals for shows she’s choreographed. Without the arts and being in the environment of the arts, I don’t think this confidence would’ve been built up or found at all. I want nothing more than to be able to help see through other people who have the same passion I do.
Here at Goucher, it is not even a question of whether what you’re doing is important or not. If it is what you want, it is what the faculty and staff here are going to help you achieve. They provide this confidence boost and ability to truly know that this is what I should be doing, and that what I’m doing does matter. As I have started my first year here at Goucher, pursuing a degree in Dance Education, there has been nothing but positivity and encouragement from all involved in helping me achieve what I want. At Goucher, we have been blessed enough to have so many departments in the arts that allow individuals to find this confidence and importance in what they are doing, which I have especially found true in the Department of Dance.
The arts have been an outlet, a boost in self-esteem and self-discipline, and, most importantly, something that has given me satisfaction in my life. The arts have done this for many others—I’ve seen it with my own eyes. All the elements that the arts can bring to a person can only challenge, inspire, and better those involved and dedicated to the thing that is important to them.
BY RACHEL MILLER
University of Sydney. “Research shows that involvement in the arts has wide-ranging benefits for young people.” Phys.org. 27 Spetember 2013. https://phys.org/news/2013-09-involvement-arts-wide-ranging-benefits-young.html
Daniel H. Bowen & Brian Kisida. “Investigating Casual Effects of Arts Education Experiences: Experimental Evidence from Houston’s Arts Access Initiative.” Houston Education Research Consortium. 11 February 2019. https://kinder.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs1676/f/downloads/Brief%20-%20Investigating%20Causal%20Effects%20of%20Arts%20Education%20Experiences.pdf
Babelwright. “Theatre Isn’t Important.” Babelwright. 24 September 2012. https://babelwright.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/on-the-death-of-theatre-companies/