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Why art is important even if you don’t ‘get it’

Art of all kinds serves an incredibly important function in societies throughout history. Art allows us to express our emotions which are notoriously hard to define. My happiness isn’t the same as your happiness and it’s truly impossible to quantify the two experiences to one another. The closest we come to that is art.

“Art” in this instance can refer to a painting, a sculpture, a movie, a book, a musical score, etc., and for this purpose, they function the same. These “artworks” are all created by artists. Some works of art, such as movies or video games, are created by lots of different artists working as a team with a vision molded by a single artist sometimes called a director. Even though there are sometimes multiple artists and multiple visions and experiences to bear, these pluralist mediums factor in the same as the other more singular mediums.

In the United States, many students go through programs at all levels related to forms of art, be it music, dance, film, art class, etc. Despite this number, a large percentage of programs go underfunded. Even at the federal level via the National Endowment for the Arts, there is a measly .003 percent dedicated to arts in the national budget. Why is there such a discrepancy in the cultural impact of art and the funding of it?

The answer is quite bare and obvious. For as long as there have been artists, there are people who don’t view art as a worthwhile career (“worthwhile” here being a substitute for “profitable”) and thusly, don’t want to fund it because they fear they may not return on their investment, and in turn, inspire more people to believe art is just a pastime and not something someone can do as a career. It becomes a vicious cycle at a point. The real peculiarity comes in just how steeped our culture is in the arts.

As an experiment, I’d like you to take a tally throughout the day of how much art you truly consume. For every song you hear, be it on the radio or someone singing or whistling or humming on the street, make a tally. Every billboard or advertisement you see, make a tally. Every block of text you read (including this one), make a tally. And then at the end of the day, I’m certain you will have a paper dark with marks. Art is all around us and that is why it is so important for you to care about art even if you don’t understand it at first.

The goal of art isn’t for you to understand every nuance of an artist’s work. As mentioned before, that’s impossible. An artist’s vision and emotions, even if they describe it, will never be fully understood. What goes on in the brain of the artist cannot be fully comprehended because it is truly personal and that’s the point. The point of art is to experience someone else’s experience and art media are the closest approximation we have to that process.

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