Taking the Arts Seriously

(6-15-10) Agnes Gund for the Huffington Post:

Where do the arts fit in relation to other important parts of our society? Where are they situated in the consciousness of our time? I find myself thinking about this a lot, worrying that the fit is, in a word, bad. All too often in our society, the arts are shut out; they are left to stand alone, at an uncomfortable angle away from the experiences and events we otherwise share as citizens, as thinkers, as advocates and as agents of change.

Examples? There are many. Newspapers provide "arts" or "entertainment" or "leisure" pages, separating cultural coverage from the news. A great deal of art training takes place deep inside conservatories or art departments where young artists are isolated in studies of process. Art teachers in elementary and secondary schools have to work hard to make clear the important relationships between what they teach and other school subjects and goals, like math, social studies, and personal growth. Policy makers frequently ignore the arts when they develop issue areas; activists ignore them when they seek solutions to social problems; foundations leave them out of their guidelines. Examples like these yield my reluctant conclusion: Too often, artists are marginalized and seen as devoid of concern or ideas about the world we live in.

Read more here.