The Arts are not "only” the NEA…
“Above all, artists must not be only in art galleries or museums — they must be present in all possible activities.” — Michelangelo Pistoletto
What is art? Art is a means for social change. Art is relaxing. Art is inspiring. Art is culture. Art is pretty.
What can art really do? At Americans for the Arts we know; the arts are more than just around us or a part of us—they are also an application. Like an amoeba, they can live on their own, but when “discovered,” they suddenly are ever-present and malleable in ways you might not know, and perhaps, they are limited only by “un-thought thoughts,” or put differently, imagination.
I have been working at Americans for the Arts for almost a year and have seen “new” ways that the arts play a part in all kinds of public policy. Reaching far beyond typical grant-making at a federal cultural agency, the arts have connections to many footings in government.
Look at some of these current applications that impact federal policy:
- Arts & healthcare. Creative arts therapies – including art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and music therapy – as defined by the National Institutes of Health have been shown to be effective for symptomatic relief related to insomnia, anxiety, pain, and various somatic presentations associated with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). Such therapy has also been shown to produce shorter hospital stays, less medication, and fewer complications for some patients.
- Arts & taxes. Film production tax credits influence where movies are made and which towns become tourist draws.
- Arts & immigration. A couple different visas, including the O-1 nonimmigrant visa, enable artists who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement to otherwise travel to the U.S. on a visa to perform. Yet delays in U.S. visa processing jeopardize these planned cultural exchange events, diminishing any associated travel and tourism economic impact, and the sharing of art and understanding.
- Arts & the military. The National Intrepid Center of Excellence, operated by the U.S. Department of Defense at the Walter Reed National Medical Military Hospital, includes a Healing Arts Program. Last November, services expanded to bring art therapy to military patients at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Fairfax County, Virginia and is expanding even further in 9 sites around the country.
- Arts & broadcast spectrum. Wireless microphones impact performances, including opera and dance companies, symphony orchestras, and community theaters. Spectrum auctions at the Federal Communications Commission can preserve two safe-haven channels for wireless microphones, which have already had to move off the 700 MHz Band.
- Arts & the Internet. Game-changer. Opportunities for artists and cultural organizations to share their work have never been so large. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned portions of the FCC’s Open Internet Order. A month later, the FCC released a new proposal in response, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced pending legislation that would restore the rules until the FCC adopts new final rules on net neutrality.
- Arts & business. Businesses are using the arts to inspire employees, stimulate innovation, foster creative collaboration, and even help to make for more successful employees: In a report, 72 percent of business leaders said creativity is of high importance when hiring.
- Arts & transportation. Sure, the AMTRAK writer residency program is now old news. Public art is even older, yet still a highly sought solution for created industrial eyesores, community building, and downtown revitalization.
- Arts & endangered species.Some musical instruments contain products -- like African ivory -- protected by domestic and international import and export restrictions. Markets for ivory contribute to the crisis threatening the African elephant, and the U.S. Administration took action to help try to save the species, which also unintentionally hinders international travel with some instruments, impacting orchestras and collectors as well.
- Arts & science.This seems easy, with the ubiquitous “College of Arts and Sciences,” but not correct. True, arts and science colleges are places where there is coursework in the arts and coursework in the sciences. You can take both. But not really together at the same time. What if you did!? That’s STEAM! Nobel laureates do it; in a widely noted study published in the Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology, they are “twenty-five times as likely as the average scientist to sing, dance, or act; seventeen times as likely to be a visual artist; twelve times more likely to write poetry and literature; eight times more likely to do woodworking or some other craft; four times as likely to be a musician; and twice as likely to be a photographer.” Do the arts advance their understanding of science?
- Arts & airplanes. Ever tried to carry a guitar as carry-on luggage? There’s a provision on the books for carrying musical instruments on planes, but it is still stuck in regulatory process at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), while damage to instruments keeps happening.
- Arts & the economy. For the first time, the American creative sector was measured by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) through their "Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account," which calculated the arts and culture sector's contributions to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) at 3.2 percent—or $504 billion—of current-dollar GDP in 2011. This is larger than agriculture!
How are the arts infused in your work? How can they be? Share your ideas below! To help get things started, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Are the arts a part of it? You betcha! Just wait to see what the arts can do!