Earth Without Art Is Just Eh

Art is the reflection and celebration of diversity and heritage. It strengthens a nation.
03/24/2017 01:41 pm ET Updated Mar 24, 2017
Jenny Sowry

Eh, according to Merriam-Webster, is used to ask someone to repeat something, which makes, “Eh?” an appropriate response to the President’s FY18 budget blueprint to eliminate funding for The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Established in 1965, the NEA is an independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. 

I for one am a lover, practitioner, and advocate for the Arts and Arts education. Because it is my life’s work, as well as my hobby, I see the benefit of the arts from a biased view. To me, everything else in the world is flat and boring. Art gives depth to life.

When I was kid I could only tolerate the boring news because of the colorful info-graphic over the shoulder of the newscaster. Without The Arts, life is just 2D.

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”

~ Confucius

The Arts make us who we are. In early development, we learn through musical and visual cues. Can you recite the ABC’s without also hearing the melody of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? 

Numerous research studies show music in school improves language, math, attendance, and confidence.

The Arts Education Partnership reviewed an extensive body of research to identify high quality, evidence-based studies that document student learning outcomes associated with music education. The results show that music education equips students with the foundational abilities to learn, to achieve in other core academic subjects, and to develop the capacities, skills and knowledge essential for lifelong success.

The report from studies around the country showed that music education enhances fine motor skills; Prepares the brain for achievement; Fosters superior working memory; Cultivates better thinking skills; Sharpens student attentiveness; Strengthens perseverance; Equips students to be creative; Supports better study habits and self-esteem; Improves recall and retention of verbal information; Advances math achievement; Boosts reading and English language arts skills; and Improves average SAT scores – to name a few.

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”

- Henry David Thoreau

Brain development doesn’t stop when we are young. The Arts continue to have profound impacts on our adult lives. 

A published study of music on a molecular level (The effect of listening to music on human transcriptome. PeerJ. 2015) showed that listening to classical music enhanced activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion, also known as the feel good hormone.

Our brain rewards us with dopamine for various behaviors. Addictive food and drugs increase dopamine activity. Maybe instead of a war on drugs, we just pump better music into the airwaves.

Art, Drama, and Music therapy are other areas of scientific interest. Research has shown hip-hop lyrics offer individuals suffering from cognitive illnesses a fresh way of thinking, while creating, singing, moving, and/or listening to music reduced symptoms in depressed adolescents.

With the depressing unveiling of budget cuts, 10 out of 10 scientists recommend we all tune in to the classical station ASAP.

Dear POTUS, try “Nocturnes Opus 9 no. 2” by Chopin. It might help you sleep better and prevent regrettable 3 AM Twitter rants.   

If Trump wants to put “security” first, paying a larger sum to the first lady’s living expenses in NYC, while eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, what does he anticipate the future looking like? And will it really be more secure?

Because Art drives a movement, perhaps the POTUS will feel more secure with less pink knitted hats in circulation; or less of the best protest signs we’ve seen parading in recent history.

Dear POTUS, try 'Nocturnes Opus 9 no. 2' by Chopin. It might help you sleep better and prevent regrettable 3 AM Twitter rants.

Art is the reflection and celebration of diversity and heritage. It strengthens a nation. War only diminishes diversity and puts a country at risk.

A country that truly cares about its own people and its future cares about how well our young people are set up to succeed. Investment in the arts and arts education for young people is a true demonstration that from the very seat of our government, we value each other, our people and who we will grow to be. Taking that away leads one to question, who benefits from this? Who do we value most in our society? Whose interests are we pandering to? Are our laws and policies really looking to the future of our people or the fattening of a fortunate few?

The World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network to help countries guide their public policies. Nations that top the list are typically those that address sustainability and well-being.

An excerpt from the 2017 Report (Chapter 7, Restoring America’s Happiness,) states “income per person has increased roughly three times since 1960, but measured happiness has not risen. The situation has gotten worse in recent years: per capita GDP is still rising, but happiness is now actually falling.”

What good comes from making America rich again, if America has no programs to improve the quality of life?

Respectfully, if the administration is more concerned with business, then by all means invest in the Arts. Throw more parties. Produce more concerts. Celebrate our diversity with us. Girls just want to have fun.

Even the Ukraine-born oil billionaire Len Blavatnik knew well enough to buy my record label’s parent company, Warner Music Group, as well as AI Film, and invest in Beats.

Nations around the world adore and imitate American music and cinema. Entertainment is a major export, yet our Art sharing services are practically free and/or completely pirated by some countries. Art isn’t a renewable resource. If the Artists can’t feed their families, they will no longer be able to produce art. Get with the Arts program America! 

“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.”

- Winston Churchill

Art is more than jazz, tap, and ballet. Art provides the rhythm and poetics behind the great speeches that define generations and change the world.

Sir Winston Churchill used painting to steady his mind for leadership and stave off depression, eventually inspiring George W. Bush to demonstrate just how tender, healing and transformative the Arts can be.

Which leads me to wonder: If funding for a new generation of artists and unifying programs goes away, just so we can refurbish our military might and security forces, who’s going to paint the beautiful murals on Trump’s wall?

Investment in the arts and arts education for young people is a true demonstration that from the very seat of our government, we value each other, our people and who we will grow to be.

In closing this case for the Arts, I’d like to add my personal observation that all people everywhere just want to be seen and heard. Without acknowledgement people lash-out and do harsh things just to say “I need love!” When we give our time or attention to someone, we help them. We see them. We connect at a deeper level. And we heal. 

The Arts are a vital and intelligent way to be seen and heard. Artists share their stories – and the stories resonate with the true lives of an audience. In theaters, art spaces, and concert halls around the world we come together in harmony. Literally. And we heal the world. 

“Music expresses that which cannot be said  and on which it is impossible to be silent.”

– Victor Hugo 

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