Art as a product, such as a song or a modern dance performance, can unite people, providing them with a common language to build community, bridge socioeconomic divides and evoke social change. A great example of this was Katy Perry's performance of “By the Grace of God” during the recent Grammy Awards that put the focus on survivors of domestic violence nationwide. The process of art making, in the form of arts education, is equally powerful and can transform our youth, particularly those who live in poverty, into much needed future creative economic innovators.
Studies consistently show that children engaged in arts education are significantly more likely to have increased levels of academic achievement and school attendance, fewer behavior problems and are also more likely to go on to some form of higher education. Overall, arts integrated schools have better outcomes. Why? It is argued that an arts curriculum engages children more fully and teaches them to see a future where anything is possible. Unfortunately, the very children who need arts education the most are likely to have no engagement at all with the arts due to overburdened public school systems and lack of resources.
A community infused with the arts enjoys benefits such as more jobs, economic growth and a quality of life that positions the community to compete in our 21st-century global economy. Numerous articles have been written about the need for global competiveness and creativity in today's sagging U.S. economy and employers report that creativity and innovation are some of the top skills needed by new hires to be successful in the workplace. Innovators provide the competitive business edge that leads to creative solutions for marketplace prosperity.
The applied skills that support innovation such as critical thinking, communication and problem solving are commonly acquired through arts education. An investment in arts education becomes an investment in our economic prosperity by positioning the community as a creative employment zone that helps to attract new industry.
Community arts organizations help to fuel creative and innovative minds, breaking down socioeconomic barriers to arts access and filling the gap left due to cuts in public school arts education. They play an important economic role in creating vibrant communities comprised of creative minded citizens. Taking it one step further, according to the CEOs for Citizens Talent Dividend study, educational attainment is the biggest predictor of success for cities today. In fact, 58 percent of a city's success, as measured by per capita income, can be explained by the percentage of adult population with a college degree. Since studies show that arts education significantly increases educational achievement, even a modest increase in the population that has obtained a college education would translate into major increases in per capita income and a more economically vibrant region.
The moral to this story? Make sure to get your creative on today. It's good for the economy.
Published: February 19, 2015