Opinion | Speak Your Mind

Focus: Funding of the Arts

The Arts – drama, dance, song composition and film – add cultural value to a society that is difficult to measure. What, though, is not difficult to measure is the difference between the salary earned by an art graduate and that of a business or engineering graduate. Should societies, then, stop funding the Arts? Join our debate.

  • Compiled by Huda Tabrez Community Web Editor
  • Published: 16:56 January 18, 2013
  • Gulf News

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11:05 Gulf News: The Arts add value to society much more than money.

11:06 Parasuram Ramamoorthi: A healthy, complete society does not live by money alone. It lives by values and values come from Arts and not business or engineering schools. Compassion for others, understanding differences, respecting others’ views, accommodating others in society and, above all, self-realisation come from the Arts and values it promotes. Let us start with a child: we don’t simply give them books; we buy them toys. Why? Play and fun are important for the growth and development of the child. So is the case with society.

11:09 Madhu Madan: Yes, I fully agree. Arts add value to society more than money. Art allows us to appreciate different periods in history and their impact and significance in our world. It immortalises people, places and events. Artists create a visual record of life experiences challenging social injustices such as slavery and abuse. Artists serve as historians in this role, documenting life on canvas, through photography or in sculptures. Art helps us organise our world. It is a means by which we understand our society and culture, and the society and cultures of others.

11:11 Kritika Narayan: I agree. Arts do add immense value to society. Besides being a source of entertainment, Arts also provide a definite message to society regarding various events in the world.

11:16 Gulf News: The Arts aid the economy through film, design and related industries.

11:17 Parasuram Ramamoorthi: This week, I saw three people performing at the mall. Why? Business houses know that art promotes business. Look at the airline industry: why have in-flight entertainment? Because it brings more customers. Companies sponsor jazz music festivals. Even if they may not like it, music promotes their business and helps them grow. People travel from one part of the world to another to attend theatre festivals or dance festivals or concerts. Doesn’t that help the economy? Can tourism survive without art? Take Stratford-upon-Avon for example – a tiny little village that would disappear from the world map without the Arts.

11:20 Madhu Madan: Arts do offer real-world economic benefits. The recognition of a community’s cultural assets and the marketing of them is an important element of economic development.

11:20 Sumanta Kumar Banerjee: I fully agree with this. Arts are important to state economies and provide direct economic benefits. They create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate economies through tourism and consumer purchases. These industries also provide an array of other benefits, such as infusing other industries with creative insight for their products and services and preparing workers to participate in the contemporary workforce. In addition, because they enhance quality of life, the Arts complement community development, enriching local amenities and attracting young professionals to an area. We are all aware of the impact of Hollywood or Bollywood in terms of revenue generation, direct and indirect employment generation, not just in the film industries but other related industries, too.

11:22 Parasuram Ramamoorthi: Creative arts bring in lateral and fresh thinking and companies promote that to boost innovations.

11:23 Gulf News: The Arts through expression challenges the way society is run, thereby promoting transparency.

11:24 Parasuram Ramamoorthi: Yes, it does. It holds a mirror up to society; shows us our ugliness, too. I agree totally. Examples of this are cartoons in newspapers, satirical films and comedy shows.

11:25 Sumanta Kumar Banerjee: I do agree with the statement. Through symbolic or sometimes even verbal expressions, the Arts reflect the anomalies that exist in social systems. People can then relate to these issues and use art to build a general perspective. This acts as a deterrent to the authorities and forces them to act the way they should, thereby promoting transparency. The recent public outrage against the Syrian regime or the gang-rape case in Delhi substantiate the argument in question.

11:27 Madhu Madan: Yes, Art does promote transparency most of the time. But sometimes the artist takes us into a world of fantasy, not reality.

11:27 Kritika Narayan: I strongly feel that though the Arts is used to express a lot, it does not provide complete transparency. We only know what is being shown on stage. Also, it is not necessary that whatever information is provided is necessarily true.

11:28 Gulf News: Art degrees offer less earning potential.

11:28 Parasuram Ramamoorthi: Art has empowered children suffering from autism. It has opened up new careers for them – some people have even become stand-up comedians or musicians.

11:29 Sumanta Kumar Banerjee: It will depend on what segment of the Arts one opts for. But we need to be very clear on one thing – very few go into the Arts expecting a high income. They do so because they enjoy it. Similarly, the very fact that people support the Arts – through their own purchases or social funding – suggests that the pleasure art provides is recognised by wider society.

11:29 Parasuram Ramamoorthi: But degrees in the Arts often do not teach them art management. We need that too. I am a painter but I don’t know how to market my paintings. So, art agencies come forward. Good training in art management will fetch a good income, too. Today, a drummer can make as much money as an IT professional.

11:30 Madhu Madan: Unfortunately, it is a bitter fact that art degrees offer less earning potential. But that has more to do with what is being taught through those degrees than Arts itself.

11:30 Kritika Narayan: These are like two sides of the same coin – the Arts do offer less earning potential but those who are recognised and lucky are the ones who get seen. Even celebrities need brand managers, so everything needs to be marketed well. It is not about hard work but smart work.

- Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor

Do you believe more Arts programmes should be introduced in schools and at universities?

Yes 62%

No 38%

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