Arts for Arts Sake

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Art for Arts' Sake

Dear Friends,

When I was asked to write to you about my views of the role of the Arts in society, I did not hesitate to embrace the task. Over the past three years, I have been working on a PhD in Music Education. I have finished all of my coursework, and have "only" my dissertation remaining. In this program of study, I recall many discussions in our seminar classes that were seeking to answer this very question: What is the role of the Arts in our society? For purposes of this writing, I use "Art" to mean: music, dance, theatre, fine art, and literature. I think that most philosophers in this arena agree on at least one fundamental concept: the purpose of Art in general is to cause a reaction, any reaction, in the viewer/listener. I personally want your reaction to be positive, but I think that all artists need to allow for any possibility. I truly believe this, and I am extremely pleased when I am able to help others share in the experience. The reason I participate is that I would never be totally comfortable in my life if I were not "creating." Somehow (due in large part to the many blessings of our God), over the course of my career, I have been developing an ability to make music by teaching and leading orchestras, and when I am not doing that, I do not feel complete. My role here is that of artist/performer. There are, however, two other roles: that of creator (composer, author, painter, sculptor, etc.) and viewer/listener. All three roles are of equal importance, and could not really exist in most cases without the other. A lot of publicity has been given recently to the fact that students in school who are involved in the Arts generally do better in the academic subjects, especially Math and Linguistics, as verified by scores on standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT. I am convinced that this correlation is real, but I do not think it to be causal. I feel that there are two other classes in which a student...