Public schools all over the country are facing budgets cuts. When school budgets are cut, arts programs are usually the first to feel the cut. Some perceive the arts as merely supplemental programs and not a vital part of a standard curriculum. Arts programs help children to develop creative skills. Creative ability has been linked to problem solving, conflict resolution, and even the ability to understand abstract scientific and mathematical principles. Additionally, many fail to recognize the importance of creativity to the US economy. In fact, the United States ranks higher than any country in the link between creative industries and GDP, and US exports of creative services rose from $38.2 billion in 1996 to $89 billion in 2005. (To learn more about the emerging class of creative workers in the US, check out http://bigthink.com/richardflorida.)
Not only is our workforce becoming more creative, it’s becoming more diverse. The US workforce is in the midst of a sweeping demographic transformation, and the minority portion of the workforce is projected to double by 2020. These data highlight the importance of an arts education. The arts must remain a fundamental part of early childhood education to help children to develop creatively and appreciate cultural differences.
Although most would consider research among the least creative of jobs at an advertising agency, I often rely on my musical background in my role as a researcher. Devising novel research solutions is made easier by my background in improvisation. Improvisation teaches you that there are infinite ways to rearrange a limited set of parameters. I find that a deep understanding of personality and the ability to recognize others’ motives help tremendously when attempting to unite perspectives over a new research approach.
Research has shown that more artists, musicians, and other creative types are generally more empathetic. Lastly, there is something extremely inspiring about witnessing others in the creative process. Whether it’s watching creative concepts develop into full-blown campaign executions or watching my 4-year-old daughter expressing herself through drawings, witnessing the creative spirit often renews our enjoyment of everyday tasks and reinvigorates us to approach our work with fresh thinking.
To do my part in promoting creativity, I volunteer on the board of the World Awareness Children’s Museum, an educational institution that fosters knowledge and appreciation of world cultures through exhibitions, interactive programming, the International Youth Art Exchange, and educator-led tours. Created in 1995 and located in Glens Falls, New York, the Museum has collected over 6000 pieces of children’s art from more than 65 countries. They expect to open to the public in their new location sometime this year. And, when they open, they will feature interactive exhibits that tell the stories of other cultures through children’s art, allow children to try on clothing and play instruments from other cultures, and may even allow children to speak with children in other countries via Skype.
On Thursday, March 4, the Museum will host a Mardi Gras Party (which will include wine and dessert tasting) at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls, New York. If you share beliefs about the importance of creativity and are concerned about the lack of arts in education, please join with me and Palio in support of the World Awareness Children’s Museum. To learn more about the museum or the upcoming event, contact Jacquiline Touba, Ph.D., Executive Director, World Awareness Children’s Museum, 518-793-2773, firstname.lastname@example.org.