Artistic education has been lacking for years
Education policies have consistently recognized the value of art in society. At least 47 states have arts education mandates and another 48 have art education standards, all thanks to Clinton’s Goals 2000 Educate America Act passed in 1994. This act is what set the ball rolling on the school reform agendas that took place during both the Clinton and Bush eras.
In 2001, art was officially included as one of the ten core academic subjects that public schools should teach. This designation effectively qualified arts programs for numerous federal grants. But education policies and mandates are one thing; implementing these policies in the classroom is, of course, a different story.
Artistic education may not be a priority in certain parts of the world, but its importance cannot be understated. Art may not have the power to solve society’s problems. However, it does have the ability to make society aware of the challenges within it. Teaching art to children while they are still young is also one of the best ways to develop their emotional intelligence and academic achievement.
Indeed, early involvement in the arts is linked to gains in reading, cognitive ability, verbal fluency, enhanced confidence, self–esteem and improved critical thinking skills. Arts have also been proven to enhance motivation, teamwork, and concentration. The inherent pleasures and stimulation of the art experience typically do more than improve the quality of one’s life.
Art connects human beings in ways other things cannot; it opens people to new ways of seeing things, thus creating an excellent foundation for people from all walks of life to bond and unite.
Sadly, despite these well-known art facts, its education is not as prevalent as you would think. There is an evident lack of a strong arts program in many public schools.
On the flip side, children of the affluent are usually exposed to art education whether or not their schools provide it to them. From paid programs such as toddlers in tutus to family trips to galleries and museums to having vast art collections in their homes, children from low-income homes typically do not have exposure to such excellent opportunities.
When there are art education programs in public schools, it provides kids from financially challenged backgrounds to have a more level playing field with their peers from well-to-do backgrounds. But incorporating art education programs in public schools hasn’t been as easy as it should be.
Art education has been slipping by the decade due to tight state budgets, a crammed classroom curriculum, and the public sense that art has always been nice. However, it’s never been important enough; not as important as other subjects such as math or the sciences.
Thankfully, this popular unpopular opinion is beginning to change. As mentioned earlier, art education and academic achievement are interlinked. As a result, comprehensive, innovative arts initiatives are starting to become the norm rather than the exception in a growing number of public schools across the country. Many of these initiatives are based on findings in brain and cognitive research that art can and should be used as a tool for learning.
With more and more schools working to establish an environment that is rich in arts and culture, as well as ensuring hands-on art instructions, there is hope for the world yet. It is true that most of the existing art initiatives in schools are still at their infant stages, but many are producing some impressive results.
In many parts of the country, art education has suffered immensely for so long that it will take decades to undo the massive damage that has been caused. In addition to time, enormous investments will also have to be made to fix the mess. If things are to change, legislators need to make art education a priority in any school reform plans. The states also need to make a more concerted effort to connect more students with the vast cultural resources that we have at our disposal.
All schools in the country should offer some type of art instruction and cultural programming. This is the only way that great strides will be made to revitalize arts education. The process of enforcing art education will not be easy. It will require outstanding leadership, innovation, extensive partnerships and collaborations, and support.
In many parts of the country, for instance, communities are creating partnerships with their arts and cultural resources to infuse public schools with rich, comprehensive art programs. The point is to develop sustainable programs, not those that come and go with the annual budget or depend on the whims of an administrator.
In other parts of the country, though, a coalition of art advocates, educators, business people, and philanthropists are working together to get art programs infiltrated all through the communities, especially low-income ones.
Art is one of the hardest things to appreciate
Art is one of the hardest things for people to appreciate, and it affects all levels of society and academic education. Some brilliant and accomplished individuals see no value in art. Why? Because they don’t appreciate it or bother to.
Art appreciation is something that goes beyond hanging a beautiful painting or visiting a gallery or museum. The truth is that we are surrounded by art all the time; it is everywhere that we look. If people simply opened up their eyes to that fact, then the world would be a much different place.
So what exactly is art appreciation? Art appreciation is anything that:
- Gives you the ability to gain the knowledge to understand art.
- The willingness to acquire the methods and materials needed for one to discuss art verbally.
- The knowledge allows one to pick out the movements from ancient art to today’s contemporary art.
Learning how to appreciate art is a vital cultural foundation needed to enable individuals to critically analyze art, different art forms, and how various cultures use art. For one to appreciate art, they must have the capacity to view it throughout history, paying close attention to the people and the cultures they subscribe to, as well as how art developed through various periods. It is almost impossible to understand art if one does not understand the culture, materials used and the beauty it provides.
All individuals are born with the innate ability to create art, yet so few are given the training needed to foster their talent. As we’ve talked about above, art education is not only critical for an individual’s comprehension and development but also their emotional well-being. Art allows people to have diverse points of view while still understanding how people lived in the past. More importantly, art connects the issues that people experience in modern life. The history of the world is the history of art.
The great thing about art appreciation is that anyone can appreciate art and because art appreciation is so subjective, there is really no right or wrong way of doing it. Different art forms will appeal to different people; they are supposed to. Art appreciation, on the other hand, allows one to explore various art forms despite what one has already been exposed to.
Why is it so important that people learn to appreciate art?
Appreciating art is vital for various reasons. For instance, art appreciation is one way to understand the history behind a piece of painting or sculpture and the period in which the artwork originated. It is no secret that artists often reflect on the problems that they have faced and the issues surrounding their societies.
When one takes the time to appreciate art, they are essentially placing themselves in the shoes and minds of the artists so that they can better understand how society functioned at that time and how things have changed today. This is the only way one can empathize and relate to the issues that other people face on a deeper emotional and personal level.
Art is designed to stimulate conversation and spark debates between observers. When people reflect on a piece of art, it allows them to delve further into their own experiences. That’s why one piece of art could mean something entirely different for various observers that come across it. Art appreciation stimulates one’s thoughts and opens up points of view. When people are willing to listen to one another’s perspectives and interpretations of art, it encourages people to have meaningful conversations.
Art is still largely inaccessible
The art world has been struggling for a while now. Buyers and artists alike have remained passive for the last few years, leaving only a small circle of enthusiasts, collectors, galleries, and museum directors to control the agenda. All other parties, including curators and the artists themselves, now play a minor and supportive role, forming the lowest part of the pyramid whose peak has become highly inaccessible.
Artists hoping for notoriety and success are doomed if they dare break the rules and those that succeed after doing so have become extremely rare. The art market has become almost soulless and totally under the control of private ownership and monetary value. People no longer create art just to create it.
Despite the wealth of tools available that should make art accessible, such as eCommerce and social media, nothing much has changed in the art scene. Other industries have found ways to take advantage of these resources. However, in art, these tools stay greatly underutilized. Even worse, curators remain in charge of exhibitions while the museums, at best, are only ever interested in counting visitors and profits.
Only a few players have control and the public’s opinion usually counts for little to nothing at all since public institutions and popular art events such as biennales are dependent on galleries and collectors for monetary support. For this reason, these galleries and exhibitions only tend to display art that will make donors and supporters happy.
In many cases, only a small network of gallerists and collectors maintain authority over what is referred to as good art and what isn’t. It is this small elite circle that determines who, outside of the circle, is worth looking into.
For things to change, the public has to be taught about art so that they can start to realize that they do not have to wait on someone else to tell them what good art is or isn’t. The point is to empower the public enough so that they are able decide what is worth seeing and what isn’t.
Public art institutions also need to be made more democratic. An art ecosystem must be set up in which artists are allowed to nurture their audiences and vice versa. If this shift can be introduced into the existing ecosystem, the art has a chance of becoming something that isn’t just leveraged for its commercial value but something worth truly learning and preserving. If this happens, we will have built a world where art is created to represent and mirror our interests as evolving human beings.
Not many people are willing to become artists
Because of all these factors discussed above, art is not one of those careers for which people are lining up for. It has become tough to make a living as an artist these days. As a result, talented artists have eventually been forced to seek other reliable sources of income to supplement their artistry. Some artists spend years furthering their education and bettering their skills, only for them to find themselves looking for a steady paycheck in a bid to supplement their artistry.
Artists looking to make a living off their art often find that they have to put more time and effort into attracting buyers while also building a reputation, which can take its toll. Artists are typically forced to work around showcases, openings in galleries, and other establishments just for an opportunity to display their work.
For these reasons and more, many people prefer to pursue other professions that are more sustainable, which has led to a dramatic shortage of new works from new artists. For those artists that manage to succeed, it takes a dedicated lifetime of work and a good measure of luck to reach any loft ambitions of success.
Everyone can all agree that art is one of the most important components we have in society. Unfortunately, the pandemic-induced school closures have placed the future of arts education in jeopardy. As schools continue to struggle to keep their core subjects going, art programs all over the country are now at risk of being shut down.