10 Reasons for the Arts

Education budgets are usually low because they reflect the same ranking society gives it. Once again, this is about the rule, not the exception. That being said, the arts are being cut from school programs to save funds.

That’s a massive blunder. Vices abound. Kids are warned against alcoholism and addiction. Then they are deprived of some of the most constructive uses of their time and energy.

Supposedly, kids are sent to school in the best country in the world until they graduate. Then they are expected to attend colleges and universities to make them workplace ready. Someone somewhere thinks those 12 to 16 years or more of education can be achieved without healthy outlets for students’ emotions.

Those conduits would be the arts.

Great feelings are inspired by the artistic endeavors of others. In other words, someone creative must be involved. It’s how we get:

  1. Music
  2. Games
  3. Dance
  4. Paintings
  5. Photography
  6. Sculptures
  7. Plays
  8. Books
  9. Films
  10. Architecture

Uninformed people think that only gifted artists and performers do those things. That’s true. Places like performing arts high schools, music schools, and art institutes are where they learn and develop those talents.


One thought on “10 Reasons for the Arts

  1. Another way of illustrating Deidre’s contention that the arts are as vitally important to life on this planet as we know it as any of the hard sciences are is to ask the following question:

    What would a world without the arts look like, be like?

    The answer would probably be different for everyone who asks the question, but that’s the point: Whether we are conscious of it or not, the arts influence our lives.

    In 1969 and early 1970, I was involved in an undertaking called “Multi-Media Ministry.” Two of my friends, Dave Reinke and Mick Roschke, were my partners in this venture. I had met both of them in the fall of 1965, at Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Indiana, where we were all studying to be Lutheran ministers in the Lutheran
    Church-Missouri Synod. Dave, from Missouri, who sang and played electric bass, and I were the nucleus around which formed The Innocent Bystanders, a 4- and sometimes 5-piece pop/rock band. Mick, from Michigan, occasionally sat in on tambourine and vocals.

    During the period in which we created the Multi-Media Ministry concept, I was newly married and living in the Hyde Park/University of Chicago neighborhood on Chicago’s southeast side, and Dave and Mick were both in the city during this time period because they were in their “vicarage” year of seminary study (read “local-parish internship”) and assigned to parishes on the North side of the city.

    We formed Multi-Media Ministry out of a desire to sensitize White, middle-class people to the plight of the urban, usually Black, poor population of Chicago. The late 1960s were times of great change and unrest, and we college-aged and postgraduates were idealists in the extreme.

    I still have some copies of our letterhead stationery from those times. Our logo was three small squares, bearing the images of, respectively, left to right, a guitar, the tragi-comedy masks of theatre, and a film projector.

    We would reserve nights at different Lutheran churches around the Chicago area and go in and hold events that consisted of splitting the attendees into three groups, setting a timer, and having the three groups shift from one to the other headed up by myself, Mick, or Dave at the buzzer, so that each group spent about 20-30 minutes with each of us in what used to be called “buzzgroups.”

    Each of us would talk, in our own way, emphasizing our particular special focus, to the groups about the influence of media and the arts in people’s lives and how the urban poor often lack this exposure and the widening of horizons such exposure represented because they lacked the wherewithal and funds to spend on going to movies, attending theatrical presentations or concerts, and buying books. Often, we would utilize our musical skills and present a little mini-concert. After a full day’s work at our regular jobs (I was a social worker then), this could be hard on us, but it was also great fun and sometimes, even rewarding. Some nights, it hit you hard — you really knew that you had gotten it through to someone that we — middle-class Whites — take all these things for granted and were really unaware of how doing without them might affect our normal lifestyles. In short, we tried to illustrate what poverty does to people, in terms that were readily understandable and accessible.

    During the same time period, another ex-classmate of mine from college, Charles Numrich, was serving his vicarage year a stone’s throw from my apartment in Hyde Park, at what we called “The Mansion,” a big, sprawling turn-of-the-century house that was a kind of experimental Lutheran Church outreach — very informal, very hip, arts-oriented, with many diverse points of view represented in the speakers lineup, up to and including Black Panther and La Raza radicals.

    Charles’ specialty was theatre, and he was very, very good at it — especially writing, acting, and directing. We had worked together in several productions in college. In the basement of the structure, he and I, with the help of other volunteers, created The Phoenix Theatre, with a small stage and home-made lighting and sound systems, where we would present cutting-edge drama. Charles directed Tom Johnson and me in Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story, with tremendous results. (Later Charles himself and I would take this two-man play on the road several times to different colleges in the Tri-State area.)

    But Charles was proficient — and becoming more so all the time — in other media as well. We held several multi-media events at The Mansion, incorporating drama, poetry readings, music, pantomime, and original movies — conceived, shot, and edited by Charles — all in the same presentation. During one of these, I acted in a play, took part in a reading, and sang and played guitar (Simon and Garfunkel’s “Old Friends” — “Time it was, and what a time it was, it was/A time of innocence/A time of confidences/Long ago, it must be/I have a photograph/Preserve your memories/They’re all that’s left you…”) while original, silent film footage by Charles played on a screen to my left.

    What a time it was (it was)….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s