Why The Arts Are Important

Why does a federal agency in Washington, D.C. matter to the arts in your hometown? If you care about your local theater, symphony, or downtown museum, NEA funding likely matters to you more than you realize.

In 2010 alone the NEA supported 2,400 direct grants reaching all 435 congressional districts, totaling more than $110 million. The NEA contributed $43.6 million in partnership funding with state arts agencies, which supported another 23,000 grants to 17,500 organizations, schools and artists in nearly 5,000 communities across the United States.

I read this morning that President Trump has a bust of Winston Churchill in the Oval Office. Churchill was a believer in the art. A quote attributed to him (but not verified), When he was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he simply replied “then what are we fighting for?”

But he did say this:

The arts are essen­tial to any com­plete national life. The State owes it to itself to
sus­tain and encour­age them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due

I also read this morning that the entire budget for the National Endowment for the Arts is LESS than the price of one B 2 bomber. I personally would like to see that matched!

Why Are the Arts Important

  • They are languages that all people speak that cut across racial, cultural, social, educational, and economic barriers and enhance cultural appreciation and awareness.
  • They are symbol systems as important as letters and numbers.
  • They integrate mind, body, and spirit.
  • They provide opportunities for self-expression, bringing the inner world into the outer world of concrete reality.
  • They offer the avenue to “flow states” and peak experiences.
  • They create a seamless connection between motivation, instruction, assessment, and practical application–leading to deep understanding.
  • They are an opportunity to experience processes from beginning to end.
  • They develop both independence and collaboration.
  • They provide immediate feedback and opportunities for reflection.
  • They make it possible to use personal strengths in meaningful ways and to bridge into understanding sometimes difficult abstractions through these strengths.
  • They merge the learning of process and content.
  • They improve academic achievement — enhancing test scores, attitudes, social skills, critical and creative thinking.
  • They exercise and develop higher order thinking skills including analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and “problem-finding.”
  • They are essential components of any alternative assessment program.
  • They provide the means for every student to learn.

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