‘The arts are the cardiograph of the present and the prognosis of the future’
Mark Patrick Hederman
The Arts matter because they are about human meaning.
They are really ways of seeing and ways of feeling and ways of expressing. As such the world of the arts is really the world of the full human being. They are about something greater than ourselves. Transformation. A place for ideas and a place for human elevation. A vision of what might be and an imagination beyond what is given. Nothing else can offer us that.
The Arts are about personal agency and emotional powers. They can break new ground and act as a union between men, when all else in the political and territorial arena has failed. They do not answer boundaries. All over the world it is the arts through music, song, dance and drama that brought fractures and fractions of societies together. Creating something they were all passionate about. Something that was greater than brain.
They enrich us across our lives. Yesterday I was in a nursing home with my 96 year old mother, and she was singing a song in full memory, as though she was a young girl. Agelessly.
We are so mesmerized by the authority of experts and magic bullets, and we wait in hope to be cured sometimes of fictional illnesses. Our lives are much more than the bell curve of financial measures. In fact the rise of GNP and human happiness does not correlate, yet we go on as though this was the case.
And yet we allow the economization of the education system to dictate what disciplines are regarded as essential and given precedence over others. Maths is given more points and more power in the Leaving Cert. Music is not afforded that privilege.
Every known society understood the Arts as central to the definition of who they were and what they were; Self-definition, the centre of action, healing, the core of individual distress, communal conflict with the other, negotiating change and of course human joy and expression.
The Arts are not really considered a life long career.
They do not warrant an independent State Department and are amalgamated into regional and rural development. There is nothing wrong with that and there is everything wrong with that. They have to fight roads and hedges and islands and hare coursing and bogs and towns and villages and post offices and rural transport and birds and insects and isolated communities for prominence and discussion and for finance. The arts should have their own independent department.
We talk about the importance of the arts and creativity, but we are poor on how to achieve it, nurture it and nourish it.
This must change.
The arts matter because the artist can intuit fault lines long before others can. We must celebrate artistic thinkers and doers in Ireland, those who understand the essential and central role the arts play in all of our lives. Artistic thinkers and doers who create something new, who are pioneers, original and innovative, and who use and understand the arts as the ultimate communicator of self and others.