Finance issues seem to dominate the news these days. Schools along with local, state, and national budgets are a major source of discussion. An area often considered for cuts is the arts. As a person who has an appreciation of the arts and utilizes music in my work, this is a major concern. October is National Arts & Humanities Month making this a timely topic in many ways.
Why do we see the arts as a frill? Let me focus for a moment on music. As a way to demonstrate the importance of music in your life, I challenge you to go 12 waking hours without music. That will mean no radio or TV – think of the theme songs and the music sound tracks. It means not attending most sporting events as music is often played, the national anthem is sung. It means not shopping as most stores play music. It means not singing to yourself in the shower or playing music while you work out. Many religious services employ music so you’ll need to avoid that, too. The list would be very long.
Here are a few reasons I believe music is important and worthy of funding.
- Music can provide opportunities for self-expression. How we play or sing, what we play or sing, or what we share for listening in any setting says something about us, about our feelings, our emotions. Music is used to share sentiments and to convey emotions often difficult to put into words.
- Music can enhance social interactions. Think of a dance. The music tells us whether to polka, to slow dance, to do the electric slide, or to two-step. Think of the response of an audience upon hearing the national anthem. How does a crowd respond to a school fight song at a sporting event?
- Music informs us of time. We know certain songs last an approximate length, so we can use the songs to gauge length of time. There are songs of eras. There are songs tied to times in our lives – a first kiss, a wedding, a funeral, just to name a few. Often when I get into participating in the creation of music, time seems to become unimportant. Our heart rates and breathing entrain to the rhythm and phrasing of the music. Music happens in time.
These are just a few of the ways I see music affecting lives. For me, I can’t imagine life without music. As such, I find music and the other arts worthy of support with our dollars. A recent blog entitled: “Dear Walter Pincus: Music is a Not a Waste of Money” prompted me to share this in my blog. I encourage you to read the blog, the article to which it is responding, and the comments on both. For me, one of the most interesting facts is by Jeff Bowell who cites a 1994 cost of the military bands per tax payer – a mere $1.24 per tax payer for the year.
Many US citizens will be going to the polls in a few weeks. Consider asking those running for office their views on financing the arts as it relates to their elected position. Determine for yourself how this informs your vote. Determine for yourself your public and private funding of the arts.
“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” ~ George Bernard Shaw