How Art Helps Economic Development
Larry Alton / March 8, 2015
One of the most debated topics today involves what strategies are best for economically developing communities. Opinions vary depending on political views, identities, the nature of the community in question, and more. One thing most people can agree on, however, is that a successful economic development strategy requires changes be made in a community on multiple fronts; one of those fronts is art.
Art Makes People Proud of Their Communities
It might seem strange at first to name art as one of the important factors in economic development. Some people believe art is a luxury, not a necessity, for a thriving community. This couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the most important parts of economic development is engaging the members of the community and inspiring them to care. Beautiful artwork enriches homes and communities. By creating a community where things look beautiful, you create something the members of the community want to protect and show off.
Art Builds Cultural Understanding
Most communities in the world struggle with racism. Racial divisions in communities and neighborhoods are often discussed, but rarely addressed helpfully or directly — even though violence, bigotry, and discrimination continue to affect people of color across the world. In a community, these divisions kill economic development and make places unpleasant for discriminated people to live in.
Art is one way to directly combat the pain caused by racism and prejudice. Experiencing bigotry results in strong emotions. By working with the same emotional-charged thought patterns you go through when you experience prejudice, art helps heal the wounds. It also spreads understanding of the existence of these wounds — an existence otherwise easily ignored, because we are taught not to talk about these internal injuries.
Beginning art education early helps children learn to be thoughtful, compassionate adults. By providing art curriculum that values other cultures, community leaders can teach children about the important contributions of all different races of people from around the world. Children and adults alike can benefit from this kind of education. It teaches us to take a wider view of things rather than staying stuck with old, incorrect ideas.
Art Creates Jobs
Art isn’t typically thought of as a practical field in terms of money. However, this attitude in itself shows a lack of creativity — there are many different fields for artists, and many businesses and communities which could benefit from having more artists as workers. Artists create advertisements, design building interiors and exteriors, teach, sell their work, and more.
Promoting art in a community helps build an entirely new sector for economic development. Investing in the arts in investing in job creation.
There are many different factors to successful economic development. Art can help change communities for the better in a compassionate, healthy way.