I believe that the arts are still important in a society that is increasingly focused on science and mathematics. I feel like we are constantly bombarded with cries to “Save the arts!” I wonder how the arts came to need to be saved. When was the idea of creating pushed completely to the wayside to make way for the hard facts of math and science?
I think part of it has to do with competition. As students, we are constantly reminded that our scores are sub-par compared to countries like China. So schools focus more on math and sciences, and encourage students to pursue math and science based careers, in the hopes that we will catch up to these countries.
I’m probably biased when it comes to the subject of the arts because I grew up in a town that was very art friendly. Everywhere you looked there was an opportunity to somehow become involved in the arts. There were plenty of music stores, dance studios, and libraries. My high school, especially, was very art-oriented; our musical department was one of the best in the surrounding areas, there were many art classes to choose from, and the amount of English electives was ridiculous. I danced for thirteen years, and met my best friend through ballet, so there’s also an emotional attachment to the arts. But it wasn’t until I started fundraising to help keep my ballet studio running that I realized that not everyone appreciates it as much as I do. As I grew up I realized that the amount of people that attended our shows was quite a bit lower than I’d thought, and they were always the same people year after year.
This goes back to the question of why people aren’t engaged in the arts. Some people find it annoying or boring; others find it completely offensive. I think this could be due to the subject matter in some pieces of art. The arts tend to push boundaries, which may offend some people who agree and happily abide by those boundaries. For example, Vaslav Nijinsky’s first choreographed piece, Prelude a l’apresmidi d’un Faune, revolved around a faun that flirted with numerous nymphs, and the piece ended on a scene in which the faun pantomimes masturbation. The sexuality and eroticism of pieces like this can certainly upset audiences, especially if someone brought their date or child to this ballet, thinking that it would be a tasteful experience. There is also a large homosexual community involved in the arts, more explicitly than in other careers, at least. Those who do not approve of homosexual relationships may look down upon the arts community as a whole. There is a lot of religious debate surrounding the issue of homosexuality, and people who are very religious may see the arts as promoting it. They may argue that in the art community’s acceptance of homosexuality, they are skewing the thoughts and morals that they and the church have taught their children. Finally, people who do not care for the arts may argue that it does not actually accomplish anything for the good of society. My dad, for example, works for IBM, and would not have gotten involved in the arts if not for me. He grew up in the era in which IBM was new and flourishing, and at one point, he, his father, and his father-in-law all worked for IBM because that was what capitalism was focusing on. The arts wouldn’t bring money into the home, and so they went where the money was. Things have only escalated from there. Technology has become such an important part of our modern world, but since the arts aren’t aiding in progressing it, some might argue that they have become useless.
The real reason I think the arts are essential is that there was so much emphasis put on creativity when I was a child. I distinctly remember my parents making me read the first Harry Potter book before I saw the movie, because once you see it, it’s difficult to imagine the characters and settings, and even the plot any other way. So I honestly think it was the way I was raised that made me so interested in the arts.
I think the arts are dying out simply because they aren’t considered as important as math or science. What can the arts accomplish that will benefit the world in a way that math or science can? And honestly, it can’t. It benefits the world in other ways, like in our culture, for example. And I think if you take the culture out of our society, we become drones.