Some Benefits to the Arts

by Lindsay Curry
The arts are critical to society. They enrich human experience and contribute to society in a myriad of ways, and always have – there is no society which does not have art. This column will be an exploration of the arts scene in Kamloops through the eyes of a novice appreciator.
So what is art? Leo Tolstoy said that “Art is the activity by which a person, having experienced an emotion, intentionally transmits it to others”. I think that is a great definition for all of the arts, including the written arts, performing arts, and visual arts.
There are social and educational benefits to the arts. There is a strong relationship between the arts and educational achievement. This includes increased literacy, as well as better performance in languages and math.
The arts are a way of communication among people. They communicate across the barriers that still exist between us—barriers of class, culture, and language. In our varied world, art is a language with which we can all engage.
The arts tell stories that are meaningful– universal while at the same time intensely personal.
The arts play a complementary role in health care – think of music and dementia patients. The arts make you healthier by improving mental health and well-being generally.
The arts can elicit intellectual discourse, making us question norms or change the behaviour of society. They inspire and provoke questions. They can challenge the status quo and create history.
There are also vast economic benefits: The Canadian Arts Coalition reports on their website that the GDP of culture was $48 billion in 2010 – three percent of the total GDP of Canada. This is a larger contribution to the nation’s GDP than is made by the accommodation and food industry ($32 billion), and the agriculture and forestry industry ($23 billion). Also they reported that in 2010, 3.7 percent of total employment in Canada was in culture – 650,000 jobs. So an investment in the arts makes economic sense, too.
In this column, I will explore the arts in Kamloops. I will interview the people behind our arts organizations, offer reviews of different exhibitions and events, and try to bring to light parts of the arts scene that are less well-known. I am looking forward to exploring the arts with you!