Art for Art’s Sake?

Fast on the heels of the deafening response to my Reinvention Goals post, I found this gem from The Economist that set my poor excuse for a heart (I know, some of you believe economists have no hearts) beating a little faster. In an article entitled “Painting by Numbers,” the author asserts:

IN A recession the arts may seem a luxury. But they have proved a valuable way to rejuvenate industrial districts and boost communities that once relied on manufacturing. Studies show that in a labour market that prizes well-educated workers, the best way to lure them is often by attracting creative people first.

The article goes on to say that artists are a key driver of economic success. “Though they make up only 1.4% (2.1m) of America’s total labour market, they are highly entrepreneurial and twice as likely to have college degrees.” The kicker: “In general, artists’ median earnings are higher than those of the rest of the labour force: $43,000 compared with $39,000 in 2009.”

It sounds to me like HWC ought to look hard at promoting our Art & Architecture department as an important enabler of one of Reinvention’s goals. Fear not credentials of economic value, you defenders of the liberal arts. The truth lies within ourselves.

Published by Don Laackman

Leader with higher education, non-profit and private-sector consulting experience.

4 thoughts on “Art for Art’s Sake?

  1. Thanks for the link to the article and the connection of the arts to Reinvention. I met with Reinvention folk last week along with a couple of colleagues and, as a result of the conversation and your link, remain optimistic about the future of the arts in the City Colleges. Aside from the reality of economic viability and effective transfer for students…

    No other profession is better positioned to analyze, conceptualize, criticize, reflect on, respond to and emotionally interpret our society. And does our society need it now as much as ever. At the City Colleges, it’s our responsibility to interested individuals to provide them with opportunities for higher education in the arts. It’s our responsibility to society to expose as many others as possible to what the arts might hold for them, even if it’s just a one-time experience that helps develop much needed critical thinking and communication skills. It’s ironic that, among most private and many public institutions today, educating oneself in the various arts costs so much that it smacks of elitism.

    To think that we serve such a vital role and keep it financially reasonable so as to make an education in creative communication truly accessible to the masses in our world today – wow.

    Empowering the subjective voice of a free society. It needs the celebration of thousands of dirty fists thrust into the air in front of a big pile of paint. Or clay. And the rest of the world to cheer – and then exhale.

    I hope Reinvention can keep up…

    1. Bravo Sir Bravo!

      I am currently giving you a standing ovation in front of my computer monitor.

      Thank you for noting the relevance of art in our times.

  2. I’m glad to see your continued interest in supporting the Arts and I echo what my colleagues have already posted. I look forward with working with you in the future to help grow the department of Art and Architecture.

  3. Thank you so very much for this posting. As funding for the arts is drying up, I find myself wondering who out there is noticing. It seems that many people realize that the arts are an integral part of education, and students who are encouraged to participate in the arts do better in school over all- but who is willing to stand up?

    Again, thanks for this post.

    Always nice to know the arts have one more defender, especially here at HWC.

    ~Rachel.

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