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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Schools should promote, not cut arts

 

Mary Sedarous

Guest Columnist

 

America has a problem with the arts.

 

As our economy continues to stagnate, budget cuts are becoming increasingly prevalent in all levels of education. Sadly, when faced with a decrease in spending, schools tend to cut the arts first. These cuts are unreasonable since they force arts programs to bear an unfair amount of schools' economic burdens. And it is our society's lack of appreciation for the arts that allows them to be devalued so often.

 

Arts are often viewed as trifles. People often ask what practical value there is in making music or painting pictures. The common perception is that there isn't one, that they only serve emotional purposes. Conversely, an education in math and science is believed to provide more tangible benefits. But these curmudgeons are wrong.

 

In the United States, people pretend to pride themselves on the innovation and ingenuity that allowed us to become the one of largest economies in the world. And yet, how could our greatest innovators develop the creativity needed to invent the technologies and formulas of the future if they were never exposed to fantastic stories, music or art? If they were never given a blank canvas and the freedom to create something from nothing, how could they have ever attempted to do so on a more complex level?

 

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The arts are especially important in today's high-stress society. How many people could survive happily without their favorite music, books or art? Not many. A study published in the scientific journal "Nature" reveals that the brain secretes dopamine when exposed to music. Furthermore, research by University College London Professor Semir Zeki shows that looking at beautiful paintings triggers the same parts of the brain that correspond to pleasure and romantic love, meaning the arts reduces stress and induces euphoria.

 

Not only that, but the arts are valuable to people in other aspects of their life. A recent study released by BioMed Central's Behavioral and Brain Functions journal indicates a directly proportional relationship between musical aptitude and literacy in young children. If people invite their child to listen to and play music, they will become literate more quickly, according to the study. That's a pretty good deal if you ask me.

And did you ever wonder why so many people actually believe political speeches nowadays? Why aren't political commercials dismissed as the garbage they are? How are people actually affected by the political buzzwords they have heard a million and two times before? This stems from a lack of expertise in the arts. When people understand the arts, it helps them understand the rhetoric and propaganda that goes into political theater. If people lack the ability to analyze propagandized language; they don't realize they're having it manipulate the choices they make.

In the end, could it be that by supporting the arts and creativity in the United States we can solidify our preeminence in the world, have a more thoughtful and politically able citizenry and provide a better future for generations to come?

 

Yes, it is.

 

Now, as the UW System is confronted with unreasonably huge cuts in funding, I implore the system to look carefully at the benefits of the arts-mentioned and unmentioned-and keep the cuts reasonable. Don't let the arts be crippled in Wisconsin.

 

Mary Sedarous is a freshman with an undeclared major. Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

 

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