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Why the Arts Matter

September 6, 2009

I stumbled across this while doing some reading for my dissertation. (Alas, still in that phase). I thought it would be interesting to share it. It’s from John Tusa’s Art Matters (Methuen Publishing 1999). It’s an answer to the ever present question ‘Why the arts at all?’.

The arts matter because they are universal; because they are non-material; because they deal with daily experience in a transforming way; because they question the way we look at the world; because they offer different explanations of that world; because they link us to our past and open the door to our future; because they work beyond and outside routine categories; because they take us out of ourselves; because they make order out of disorder and stir up the stagnant; because they offer a shared experience rather than an isolated one; because they encourage the imagination, and attempt the pointless; because they offer beauty and confront us with the fact of ugliness; because they suggest explanations but no solutions; because they force us to think about the difference between the good and the bad, the false and the true. The arts matter because they embrace, express and define the soul of a civilisation. A nation without arts would be a nation that had stopped talking to itself, stopped dreaming, and had lost interest in the past and lacked curiosity about the future.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. severnyproductions permalink
    September 6, 2009 13:43

    well said

  2. September 21, 2009 08:54

    I’d like to quote what a friend said in response to the question “Why do the arts matter”, just as beautiful as what Tusa wrote:

    “The only consistent element across and within civilisations is art, because we want to understand what is, imagine what could never be, and avoid what could be. Arts are our way of dealing with/purging our personal demons. And this is why the arts matter.”

  3. Lori Gordon permalink
    September 22, 2009 02:15

    Eleonora, thanks for sharing this. Each piece of this “answer” could be expanded into an exposition itself! (Or at least journal entries, for me!)

    It seems that a common thread is that art pushes us from one place to another. We can never really stand still. It’s like the metaphor for life: we are on a constant journey.

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