Art affects all our lives, and in a very good way! So I've decided to outline the ways I see that effect happening in Australia today. Obviously I can't cover everything, but hopefully you'll find a few things to chew on. Have a read, I'm keen to hear what you think in the comments!
Art and Education
Two thirds of Australians say the arts have a big or very big impact on child development; a similar proportion believes the arts affect our ability to express ourselves and think creatively.
We believe artistic and creative activity is an essential part of ongoing human development at any age, as is access to lifelong learning opportunity for all Australians.
Numerous reports have shown that schoolchildren exposed to drama, music and dance are usually more proficient at reading, writing and maths.
Art helps develop both independence and collaboration in students. It improves academic achievement holistically - enhancing test scores, attitudes, social skills, critical and creative thinking. Art crosses racial, cultural and social barriers, which again creates a better environment in our schools for learning. It also improves concentration skills for many students who would struggle otherwise – a natural cure for ADHD!
We want to see creative activity, dance, music and art courses available in every Australian school, and consider them a key part of a well rounded education. Our businesses need graduates who can think smarter and more creatively. We need to invest in Australia’s minds.
Art and Health
By supplementing medicine and care, artistic activity can improve the health of people who experience mental or physical health problems. This has been widely researched and confirmed. Some of the benefits are:
- Inducing positive mental and physical changes in clinical outcomes
- Reducing drug consumption
- Shortening length of hospital stay
- Promoting better doctor-patient relationships
- Improving mental healthcare
- Increasing staff retention and professional development
The relationship is most pronounced around musical engagement, creating visual art, movement/dance and writing. Did you know nearly half of Australians living with disabilities are regularly creating art? That’s an increase from 35 percent in 2009.
Art and the Economy
Every Australian business nowadays needs to be creative in their ideas and innovative in their execution to survive - that’s a given. When we look at a vibrant art sector, we see the same multiplier effects of wages spent, taxes collected and secondary supporting economic activity.
The sector becomes especially important for cities trying to draw smart professionals from around the world. The best and brightest workers are global citizens, and if they (or their families) are not pleased with the cultural amenities, they won’t come.
Australia’s creative industries contribute $90bn a year to Australia’s economy, while employing over 600,000 Australians. Yet the value of our creative industries has been dropping each year for over a decade. It’s not because we’re less creative but rather we’re less competitive. Our best and brightest are being poached overseas all the time. Any venture capitalist who wants to invest in an Australian start-up ‘expects’ them to relocate to Silicon Valley! We need to turn this around.
To become the creative, innovative and imaginative citizens that our companies and governments want us to be, Australians need to willingly expose themselves to new ideas. A vibrant arts and culture community is the easiest way to make this possible.
Art and Law and Order
It’s been shown across Australia and the world, that areas and neighbourhoods which embrace an artistic and cultural scene, regenerate faster than others socially and economically, attracting new businesses and new residents. They also record drops in crime levels! Prosperity is the best way to tackle crime, not prisons. A community that prospers and shares that prosperity with its members is happier and safer. Students who attend schools that offer access to a range of art courses are statistically much less likely to get into trouble with the law than those who attended schools without an art education opportunity. So who wants an arts scene?!
Art and Social Justice
Art is used by many as a tool for dissent, but its ability to transform lives directly is much more important. There are many cases of students turning their lives around because they could develop an artistic talent despite a background without opportunity. Art works as a tool to help people improve their situation, find self-belief and bring about real change. Social justice has been perhaps the most political area of the arts throughout time, but it’s so much more than that. We applaud public art and art education for social change!
Art and Indigenous Communities
Australian Indigenous art is the oldest ongoing tradition of art in the world. Initial forms of artistic Aboriginal expression were rock carvings, body painting and ground designs, which date back more than 30,000 years. Art has always been an important part of Aboriginal life, connecting past and present, the people and the land, and the supernatural and reality.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that Indigenous art came to the attention of the Western art world. It has stimulated an Arts Industry now worth more than $200m a year, and to the rest of the world it’s a key element of how Australia is perceived.
On a more practical level, it’s a crucial element in bringing much needed income to often very poor and remote communities across the country. This again relates to Art and Social Justice, as well as Law and Order. We need to do more to encourage that work.
Art and Innovation
Success is a great idea well executed. Creativity is thinking up the new idea, innovation is doing the execution. Creativity/Innovation are two sides of the same coin. Like Art and Science.
Art and regional communities
The Earth without art is just ‘Eh'. ;-)
Art produced in regional Australia is significant, iconic and inspiring. For country people, there’s simply not the same level of access to art and cultural activity as is often taken for granted in cities. It’s a social glue that unites smaller communities. It gives the young positive activities, creates bridges between disparate communities of Australians, generates jobs, income, infrastructure investment and tourism. Just as it does in any community, a vibrant arts sector attracts and retains professional people to regional communities too.
We believe Communities in regional Australia should receive an equalising share of the government funding dollar when compared to their city counterparts.