Here’s a link to the Imagine That! blog at Psychology Today. Authors Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein make a compelling and empirically-backed case for the importance of arts education in promoting innovation and creativity. The full article is: Artsmarts: Why Cutting Arts Funding Is Not a Good Idea | Psychology Today.
For the most part, I agree with the Root-Bernsteins’ reasoning and I certainly appreciate their message. I am concerned, however, that this continues the argument that for the arts to be worthwhile (and worth investment), they have to lead to a concrete, tangible, economic benefit. This is an argument that people have been making for years and I just don’t think it’s doing much good. You can’t treat art like a commodity with a specific return on investments. The cause-and-effect is either too long (e.g., the case for its role in education) or too diffuse (e.g., as in urban development).
The solution, of course, really isn’t apparent. The US seems unable to do any long-term thinking and investing for a while now. Those with means have certainly worked hard to protect and enhance their resources, but as a society, we’ve short-changed many long-term investments for the quick cash, the quick turnover, and the quick fix. That’s not a sustainable environment for art, which tends to be expensive, local, and time-consuming.
I’m not sure what argument will work to support the arts, but I hope we find one soon. Just as there’s no real way to make a quick buck, I’m not sure there’s a quick fix to the current attack on arts. And, I’m not convinced that those who seem intent on destroying all public support for the arts will ever feel the effects of its loss.