Guest Post from Art and Theater Critic Melissa Hall
My name is Melissa Hall and I'm a theater critic in the Midwest. I'll be discussing the importance of arts in our culture. Please visit my blog, Stage Write, if you'd like to read more on the theater in the Midwest.
I remember the first time my parents took me to see a play. We saw Brigadoon at a local dinner theater and I was completely captivated. At only 8-years-old and I began a lifelong love affair with performing arts. After that first show I saw Peter PAn, The King and I, symphony performances and even an opera.
Whenever economic times are rough, the first thing to get cut is arts programs. I don't disagree that feeding and clothing our kids is more important than taking them to the symphony, but I don't think that sports are necessarily more important and athletic teams never seem to lose their budgets.
The arts feed our kids' souls in a completely different way. They teach them about beauty. They tell them stories through paintings, performances and music. They challenge them to think about the world and the people in it, who are experiencing life in a way that may seem foreign at first.
Study after study has proven that music and theater force kids to use essential parts of their brains, not often stimulated in other ways. They increase academic performance across the board, in both math and english courses. Teaching kids to appreciate the arts at a young age spurs creativity and it frequently becomes a continued interest, enriching the lives through adulthood.
When we take arts out of the equation we are denying our kids the thing that is quintessentially human, the ability to create. That create may inspire them to design buildings, invent new technologies or become an artist, but it's the act of creation that is sacred in the end.