Are the arts & other creative fields a waste of time & money?

Are the arts & other creative fields a waste of time & money?

Kristina Driskill
This article was originally published by here by Kristina Driskill, and is re-posted with permission from the author.

In times of economic and political uncertainty, “non-essentials” are usually up for the budgetary chopping block. Almost always first on this list are the arts and other creative endeavors. Currently, there has been talk of eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, and the arts have been cut in schools consistently whenever budget constraints are present.

For creative artists, this is always a cause for frustration. “The arts are important, we need the arts!” they cry, insisting that our lives are so much better with the arts present. But are they? The arts are expensive and artists are typically poor. What are they really contributing to society? And there are so many of them…wouldn’t most of these artists be better off if they had “real” jobs?

If you’re among those who believe that spending money on creative ventures and the arts is a waste and that people could spend that money much better elsewhere, that’s ok. But you’ll need to do some things first before you can really make that kind of a statement. Let’s start with the obvious:

Go ahead and get rid of all the music on your phone and elsewhere. When you go into stores, no music will be playing, and you won’t be hearing any while you work out at the gym. If you’ve got tickets to a concert of any kind, throw those out. Musicians are artists, and you won’t be needing any of that.

TV shall only be for watching the news. Already tired of the news? Sorry - TV shows and movies are created by artists. No music intros on your news shows, either. The news won’t have any photos or videos - photographers and videographers are considered creative artists. So just make sure you listen really well. No going to the movies either, of course. That should be obvious.

Video games are also out. Computer graphics and video game music are made by creative artists. 

Of course, this goes for your kids, too. No more singing songs, playing instruments, dancing, drawing, or pacifying them with TV or movies. 

No fiction books either. That’s just made up creative stuff.

Now let’s move on to your work space.

Sculptures, art installations, and any artwork obviously must go. If you’ve got some nice-looking furniture in your office, well, that was designed, and designers are creative artists, so throw that out and get some folding chairs. Fabrics don’t design themselves, you know, so you should probably get metal folding chairs. If there are any design elements to the tile or carpet, that gets ripped out too. You can keep your plant if you have one and flowers are ok. Of course if they are in anything with a design element to it, they will need to be put in something else. Just set the flowers on your card-table-turned-desk. It will be fine.

You can keep your pictures if an amateur took them, but you’ll probably need to get rid of the frames since they usually have some sort of artistic design to them. Just use scotch tape to put the pictures on the wall. Also the scotch tape dispenser was made by a designer, so…

If your building has any beautiful architectural elements to it, those probably shouldn’t be there. These will be hard to get rid of at this point, though, so just imagine they aren’t there. Just a box with some windows is all you need.

It should go without saying that these things apply to your home, also. No artwork, no picture frames, no photos taken by a photographer.

No stuffed animals, no sheets/curtains/comforters/pillows with any form of texture or design, no cartoons, DVDs, or music. No interesting lighting (lighting configurations are made by a designer), no artistic tile/wood work, no fancy faucets or switch plate covers, no cover art on any of your books or magazines (and no pictures in them). Just like your office, no furniture with any sort of style, please.

No home decor. That includes Christmas ornaments of course.

Now, let’s talk about what you’re wearing.

Fashion is created by designers, so you’ll have to go rather plain. Ties are out, basically, as are any suits with any sort of patterned fabric. Sewing is a creative field, so you won’t be getting a suit tailored. Hopefully what’s on the rack fits close enough. And if not, who cares, right? They’re just clothes - as long as you’re wearing some you’ll be fine. Also, of course, no jewelry.

Anything but solid colors is out (remember, fabrics don’t design themselves), no monogrammed anything, and you certainly cannot wear anything by a designer (duh), so designer shoes, clothes, and bags are also out.

So, close your eyes and imagine your new world!

I would guess that if you thought the world would be just fine without creative fields and the arts, you left some things out of your assumptions.

Studies have proven that children given access to building creative skills are more well-rounded - they have better problem-solving skills, focus, non-verbal communication, and collaboration skills. They have better motor skills, improved academic performance, self-expression ability, and confidence. If you have a child, perhaps you might consider that these are good skills to have regardless of what one chooses as a profession. 

Creativity and arts integration are not just about education though, they’re about who we become as people. These things allow us to connect with others over common interests and emotions. They help us to express things that promote understanding and empathy.

Arts funding has helped to build communities and to provide therapeutic services. It’s the difference between being alive and truly living. You can have the first without the second; but if life is not about the pursuit of how to enjoy it, then it becomes unclear as to why we work so hard in the first place. Take that away from people, and society begins to crumble.

Government always seems to struggle with arts funding, and arts organizations and schools try desperately to show people why funding the arts is so important. So the next time the arts are up for a vote or an arts organization asks for your support, consider what your life would be like without them. Perhaps when artists cry out for survival of the arts they’re not just trying to save themselves. Perhaps they’re trying to save us all.

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