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WHY ARTS MATTER

Why do we need art in our lives, and why is it essential to invest national resources on it? Although the nature of art is subjective, there have been many studies to measure the concrete positive impact that art has on individuals, societies and nations.

 1. Education and Cognitive Abilities

Art encourages us to think creatively and be curious about the world around us. It gives us ways to have multiple perspectives on facts and problems. In education, students who study art are shown to have higher levels of ability in academic skills. For example, students who study music tend to perform better in mathematics and literacy. Apart from that, students from low-income backgrounds are more likely to complete tertiary education if they have studied art in school. Critical thinking and problem-solving are vital in cultivating a new generation of leaders for our country. 


 2. Health and Well-being

The effect on arts health have been well documented, with many health initiatives around the world actively using art for its benefits in prevention as well as recovery. All types of art have a therapeutic effect on people who are suffering, allowing them to deal with difficult emotions, feel self-worth and self-control, and greatly reduce their anxiety and depression. Art allows us to self-reflect as well, which leads to greater physical and emotional resilience. Patients who undergo art therapy have improvements in their immune systems and better vitals as well. In short, art makes you feel good.


 3. Soul of a Nation

Art is integral to creating a deep sense national identity in a world that is increasingly globalised. It is imperative that we tell and hear our stories to appreciate and expand upon our cultural lineage. As we are a multiethnic and multicultural society, we inherit tradition from many places across Asia and the world and fuse them together in something that is uniquely Malaysian. Instead of being divided by race, art allows us to celebrate our differences as one people. Art's ability to make us more empathetic also means that people who are involved in art tend to give back more to society in the form of volunteering and civic engagement. 


 4. Economic Contribution

It is evident that a vibrant creative industry has a high return on investment. In Singapore, the fiscal year of 2013/2014 saw an incredible $6.69 billion in operating receipts for the cultural sector. Their investment was $32.6 million. Around the same time, the United Kingdom saw 9.9% of growth from the creative industries and Visit Britain estimates an annual 4.5 billion GBP from tourists spending on arts and heritage. In urban locations such as Williamsburg, New York, a vibrant arts community has totally gentrified places that had been flailing economically before. Art creates concrete value, and a creative economy is not something we can afford to miss out on.   
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