Art is a learnable, teachable skill. There is a tendency to mystify the process of creating art and identifying which students are artistic and which are not - when really it’s a matter of practice and habit over talent. Sure, not everyone is going to be Michelangelo, but neither is everyone going to be Einstein, yet we still expect all students to master the basics of high school mathematics but the not basics of visual literacy.
Art is very good for the economy. Even though artists themselves may not make great money, they are a major tourist attraction as well as a way for rural communities to attraction professionals such as doctors into the area for the quality of life. It's a $730 billion dollar industry and accounts for 4.2 percent of America's GDP - more than transportation, tourism and agriculture.
Art teaches problem solving skills. The number one desired characteristic of CEO’s according to Fast Company Magazine is creativity. What distinguishes a CEO’s leadership as compared to middle management is creative thinking and problem solving.
Art is cross training for the brain. We become rigid in our thinking when we use only one or two modalities, which is usually the verbal/linguistic skills and the mathematical which is the main focus of curriculum in schools. Creating art helps us to access different areas of our brain and to see problems in a new light.
Art is a high transferable skill. It’s too narrow to define it as art - it’s visual literacy. Visual literacy translates into many different fields whether that means being able to distinguish between the characteristics of different cell samples in the lab to setting up a store display to building a house to being able to identify different species of plants or creating a flyer or form.
Visual literacy is a 20th century skill that is falling by the wayside. Most adults draw at the level of a third grader. That is because of the lack of arts education in schools. Schools are focusing on high stakes testing scores which has become the become the measure by which schools and instructors are judged. Teachers and administrators are constantly having to gut a student’s schedule and give them more of what’s not working (Failing math? Take 2 math classes now! Now there are fewer seats in the art class, lets cut back on the arts program… it’s a vicious cycle) so that they aren’t punished for lower scores. While I don’t believe in creating a standardized test for art, whether it’s “No Child Left Behind” or Common Core - when you combine high-stakes standardized tests with the underfunding of schools which is how schools are evaluated, that environment just pushes out the arts, slowly but steadily.
You have a situation where many young people have this huge hole in their education. They are not learning how to become creative problem solvers and independent thinkers, they are learning how to pass standardized tests. They are missing out on some skills that are highly transferable into many different fields - science, technology, retail. On top of that, they have become extremely passive as they are excessively hooked into electronics. They are suffering - and it sucks!
Art is fun. No matter what your age - this is a fun thing to do. And I'm tired of having to justify learning art as a "serious subject" any more.
When you gut the fun out of school, then students don’t want to go and they drop out. We still have high drop out rates - about 19% - and I believe that a good deal of those improved figures are a result of cooking the books a bit (for example a GED is considered to be a graduate - even though it only is equivalent to finishing 8th grade) and also passing and lowering standards just to get them to graduate. Turn school into a total drudgery, then don't wonder why students don’t attend!
What’s the problem with having some fun? It’s good for the health, good for morale (especially considering how many people are suffering depression and mood swings/anxiety), good for your brain.