Arts Benefit Everyone: Congress 2016 Stories

At the SAA’s 2016 Arts Congress, keynote speaker John Holden gave a simple, eloquent statement about the power and importance of culture:

It changes our thinking. And thinking is important.”

We agree.

Throughout the weekend, delegates contributed their own thoughts about the importance of arts and arts organizations, adding them on our “Everyone Benefits from the Arts” wall. To get brains working, three topics were offered as thought starters:

  • Every child deserves an arts education…
  • The arts benefit my community by…
  • Arts organizations are important to my community…

Responses were creative, varied, and numerous. Many began with the provided thought-starters and connected the arts and arts organizations with issues like equity; expression & identity; health & well-being; as well as connection & engagement.

Inspired by the statement “Every child deserves an arts education”:

  • Because ART is just as important as SCIENCE
  • Music builds better brains – yes, really!
  • Arts increases literacy
  • Everyone needs to feel free to be a child – to learn & play through the arts

Specific anecdotes to the importance of Arts Education:

  • A little third grader from a French immersion program in Regina upon seeing a wonderful ‘skating’ performance said to the director who presented the show, “Madam, I’ve never seen anybody skate in French so well!” Art opens up minds and fills the gaping void of cultural and linguistic misconceptions.
  • “It makes school possible for my neuro-atypical children”
  • “My 9-year-old son with ADD is able to sit and focus when making art. It’s like the explosive ideas in his brain can be visually & kinetically expressed. That never happens with a worksheet. Thank Heaven for Art!”

Cards inspired by the phrase, “The arts benefit my community by”:

  • inspiring creativity, creating connections, and connecting people from every walk of life
  • making it a community… not only the place where people live.
  • building community & connection!
  • bringing us together

Responses also identified the many ways in the arts can make tangible, serious contributions to community members’ health, wellness, and even safety:

  • Through the arts you can educate & engage.
  • Creating a safe space
  • Giving new rituals to replace destructive addictions
  • Giving people a reason to live & promoting healing
  • reflecting, questioning, challenging – to encourage a more human community
  • Seeing transformation in people given permission to be themselves, by ‘their’ people.
  • Art saves lives. Art builds bridges.

Some respondents wanted to ensure that the personal benefits of the arts in their community were not overlooked, completing the phrases as follows:

  • “The arts benefit my community by… EMPLOYING ME!”
  • “The arts benefit my community by… Making me a HAPPIER person”

Such themes – expression & identity, connection & engagement, health & well-being – were also apparent to people identifying how “arts organizations are important to my community.”

  • gave me my identify. finding community.
  • People of like mind & common interests drift together to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. … they organize to create opportunities that improve community engagement.
  • healing local & the bigger community