It’s no secret that music, theatre and other arts bring people together. After all, who doesn’t love sitting in the park alongside other fans, listening to your favorite band play? Yet, there is a measureable impact that the arts pose on communities. In fact, Princeton University published a study a few years back on this very subject.
In general, the study showed that there is a correlation between a strong arts participation and presence, and prosperity in a community, economically, socially and individually. While the study itself did have a few issues, such as defining “arts” and “impact,” there was no denying the benefits of the arts.
The Economic Impact
The biggest debate over the economic impact of the arts is not whether it is there, but rather, how much. While different studies show different results, there is a strong consensus on what causes the growth. One of the main factors is tourism. As a community’s art programs become stronger, more visitors tend to come to the area to take part. Also, tourists to an area may learn of an event while they are in town and decide to stay longer.
The arts also attract more residents to the area, which in turn attracts more businesses. These parties become more interested in living in a community that has a better reputation, naturally brought by the arts. In addition, many of the new residents are generally the creative type, which businesses tend to hire more often. This growth leads to more investment in the community, as outsiders feel more secure buying property in an “up-and-coming” area. More investments lead to greater stability, which leads to even better growth.
The Social Impact
The arts have been shown time and time again to be an effective tool for drawing people together. Whether it’s a photo gallery or a Shakespearean play, the arts are, at its base level, a tool for development. It is a way for communities to express themselves in a safe, welcoming environment. More importantly, it is often a venue through which disadvantaged individuals can truly shine. The arts are a way for people who would normally never interact to potentially become lifelong friends.
In the same vein, the arts are a fantastic way for individuals to learn about the different cultures that make up their community. There is a sense of accomplishment when a performance or gallery is complete and lauded by the general public. As this becomes the norm, residents also tend to get more involved in other facets of the community, such as engaging in civic issues.
The Individual Impact
At the base of it all, the arts impact the individual. This happens in three specific ways: psychologically, physiologically and creatively. Psychologically, observing and participating in the arts increases happiness and life satisfaction. There is also a greater sense of self-esteem and control over one’s own life. Physiologically, the social bonds made through the arts decrease depression and stress, both shown to affect physical health. Finally, the arts increase creativity and skill level, especially in those who participate. Those who observe tend to gain “cultural capital” — in other words, they become cultured.
The arts have an incredible impact on all facets of the community, especially the individual. If you or your child is interested in becoming involved with the theatre, check out our upcoming productions, classesand camps. There’s something for everyone at Lionheart, whether you are 8 or 80.