Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Value of Art

The studio ready for guests!
I've been eavesdropping on a conversation among arts organization managers and producers, on a blog by Diane Ragsdale. These people struggle to help non-profit arts organizations, theaters, museums, stay financially afloat, by persuading politicians to fund them. Their arguments for public funding must prove the value of the arts, and what is the value?

The value of art is a question artists struggle with constantly, wether we are trying to price a painting or trying to discover and develop our market. We know it is a human need. We know that art speaks to us, that it inspires and brings joy to the viewer. That it can broaden our understanding and build community. We know that life can be pretty drab without it.

Alan S. Brown has done some research on the effect of art on communities and individuals. He finds that potential effects of art (galleries, studios, and performances) include:

  • Personal development can include self-actualization, improved social skills, the ability to think critically, health and wellness, and others.
  • Among the economic and social benefits are tolerance, civic pride, economic impact, harm avoidance, and more.
  • In terms of human interaction, benefits can include more satisfying relationships, family cohesion, teamwork skills, and others.
  • Regarding communal meaning, the presentation outlines benefits such as community engagement, political dialogue, the transfer of values and ideals, a sense of belonging, and more.
  • The imprint of the arts experience can include social bonding, aesthetic growth, intellectual stimulation, emotional resonance, and others.

But how do we know these "potential" effects have happened? And how do we put a price tag on it? How do we even judge what is "good" art and what is not? And what  makes one piece of art better quality than another?

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