The Role of the Artist in Society (Cont.)

“Although creativity is often viewed as an individual phenomenon, it is inescapably a social process. Furthermore, creativity flourishes best in a unique kind of social environment: one that is stable enough to allow continuity of effort, yet diverse and broad-minded enough to nourish creativity in all its subversive forms.”

– Source: Richard Florida,  The Rise of the Creative Class

The ability of art to transform life is so powerful that in some countries artists are persecuted by their governments. During hard economic times the arts are often the hardest hit because they are not seen as essential.

Art has been used as a powerful tool to bring diverse groups together around an issue or cause. It can break down barriers between people from different cultures, socio-economic conditions, ages, genders and lifestyles. The arts, whether music, theatre, visual art, literary (written and spoken word), film and video, new media or dance, are all commonly recognized as being “universal languages” – languages that are understood across boundaries and divides. In their universality we find our common ground as human beings and can more easily see where we are similar, rather than where we are different. This common ground is the springboard for collaboration and promotes unity, harmony and mutual respect.

Artists, especially highly recognized ones, can also help to draw public attention to an issue or event. The partnership between Tom Jackson and food banks across Canada is a great example. Through a variety of strategies Tom, as a senior artist, has used his celebrity status, reputation and, of course, his art to make a significant contribution to the cause of eradicating hunger and poverty.

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