Why do the arts matter?

It is not a new debate, nor is it one that we, as artists, have much patience for. Why do the arts matter? For every possible, soul-feeding reason that makes it worth it to be alive, and to be human.

Art is about expression, communication, emotion and making sense of all of the conflict that swirls around you. It’s about categorizing and explaining, as much as it is about the very opposite - freedom and a formless way of simply saying “this is me.”

In a world increasingly focused on productivity, connectedness and speed, art gives us a chance to slow down, take a look at things a bit more closely and decide what they mean to us. Based on your own perspective and individual experiences, you can develop a “taste” and affinity for art that is uniquely your own. Recall a time when you felt companionship through fiction, or rocked out in your car to a song on repeat, or had your breath stolen by a photograph that perfectly captured the way you felt. Being seen in that way is so rare. This is why art matters.

In creating art, you get to explore yourself more deeply and discover the hidden parts of you that are willing to take risks in the name of expression and connection. A person who is usually reserved may find a new life on stage. Another may gain confidence from behind a camera. It gives us different ways to communicate. This is why art matters.

The most valuable thing we have in our lives is, arguably, our connection to other souls. And what better to connect souls than a vibrant painting, soaring piece of music or moving story? Everyone has their own interpretation of a piece of art, but finding someone who agrees with your interpretation is one of those rare sparks of magic in life that means you have found a kindred spirit. Think how you bonded with your closest friends. It was probably first over a book or a band or a movie you both liked. This is why art matters.

Art that reflects well the truth and beauty of the human experience, whether it is joyful or melancholy or tragic, can move us to broaden our horizons and consider new perspectives. This, in turn, makes us more generous with our fellow men and more likely to do what we can to make the parts of the world that we touch more empathetic and more kind. This is why art matters.

We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.

John F. Kennedy, October 26, 1963