Updated: Dec 15, 2018
I went to a conference some time ago and there was a discussion regarding the point of art in society. There was a delegate from (South) Korea who reported that her government were endeavoring to improve the collective mental health of the nation by improving and expanding arts programs. Another delegate was incredulous that anyone could think that art activity could be a general panacea for all that is wrong with the world.
So Can It?
I remember feeling intense disappointment in the dissenting delegate. They were, after all, part of an International Teaching Artist conference - part of a group of people who were already convinced of the intrinsic value of art. You see, I am truly convinced of the need for creativity in individual lives and society as a whole. It doesn't have to be Visual Art, though that is obviously my thing. But art can unlock the parts of the brain that enable people to see someone else's viewpoint, alternative ideas, new solutions to old problems, tolerance, empathy and innovation (#innovation).
So yes, art (#art) is not something that we can extract from lives as an optional extra. Art is not the entire solution, of course, but it is crucial in making better people, better communities and ultimately a better world.