Why Art Matters

Couleur / Pixabay

By Tasha Komery

Many of us enjoy the experience of seeing a live show, be it music, dance, or theatre. We leave these experiences feeling more inspired, more creative, and more at peace with the world around us.

But in the grand scheme of things, does art really matter? Does it really have a powerful impact on our lives, on our health, on our community, and on our society?

We have solid research on the impact of the arts on the economy. In the Arts Impact Alberta 2014 study, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA) found that “the total output of the sector is roughly $347 million”. Additionally, the not-for-profit arts organizations that Alberta Foundation for the Arts funded provided approximately 700 full-time and 2,700 part-time positions with the majority (85%) of Albertans reporting that the attend at least one arts event per year.

It seems the arts do improve our society. But what about us, personally? A recent study from The University of Western Australia has found that “participating in the arts for just two hours a week can improve mental health and wellbeing”. Participants surveyed were asked how they felt after the experience, and the respondents used descriptors like “optimistic”, “useful”, “relaxed”, and “good about myself”. One of the study’s co-authors concluded: “arts engagement increases people’s happiness, confidence, and self-esteem, while reducing stress and social isolation”.

Fortunately for us, Calgary is a great city to get out and experience art, whether it is in a gallery, on a stage, at a festival or even taking an art class. For a good overview of the breadth of arts and culture in Calgary, visit lifeincalgary.ca/todo/arts-culture

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