• C.J. Maxwell

Why art matters


Arts and artistic endeavours can foster a sense of community and studies show a distinct connection between early art exposure and higher education and employment retention.

Ask 100 people why art and culture is important to them, and to society in general, and you’ll likely get 100 different answers but even if someone professes no artistic inclination, they are exposed to – and take part in – the arts on a daily basis.

“The arts (theatre, dance, music, poetry, writing or the visual and fine arts) are a way of expressing our intrinsic and profound, personal uniqueness,” said Heather Markgraf of Hudson’s Gallerie Plus.”Often said to mirror the society in which we live, the arts help us define who we are, they reflect our roots and our values.”

At the very core of human expression, studies show early exposure to arts has a number of benefits for children.

According to the Arts Council of the United Kingdom, students who study arts subjects are more employable and more likely to retain employment and children who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a higher education degree.

“We’re starting to see a lot of teenagers coming in on their own,” said Nancy Farnum who, along with Mavis Martin, makes up the team of Hudson’s 2 Barn Owls gallery and boutique located in a spacious and inviting barn. “The fact that we’re in a very relaxed space makes it more approachable and accessible.” Farnum is currently part of an arts committee that is seeking ways to make the arts less intimidating and more reachable for teens.

The Barn will welcome 25 to 30 visiting artists over this summer from across the region to display their collective works.

Communities as a whole can benefit by encouraging art and culture among their residents. Arts contribute to innovation and large scale projects can play a role in neighbourhood revitalization.

“The global presence of visual arts organizations in our communities depicts society's need for cultural, social and creative outlets,” said Lakeshore Artists Association member Ann Kruzelecky. “Art exhibitions offer a chance for celebration with residents (participants and nonparticipants alike) in their local neighbourhoods. These types of activities help to deepen the sense of connectedness to that community.”

Markgraf echoes this sentiment saying that in supporting the arts, we can enrich our lives and develop a deeper awareness of who we are and a greater understanding of others. “We have the opportunity to reflect on our connection to something greater than ourselves.”