Are the Arts Essential? (Hardcover)
A timely and kaleidoscopic reflection on the importance of the arts in our societyIn the midst of a devastating pandemic, as theaters, art galleries and museums, dance stages and concert halls shuttered their doors indefinitely and institutional funding for entertainment and culture evaporated almost overnight, a cohort of highly acclaimed scholars, artists, cultural critics, and a journalist sat down to ponder an urgent question: Are the arts essential? Across twenty-five highly engaging essays, these luminaries join together to address this question and to share their own ideas, experiences, and ambitions for the arts. Darren Walker discusses the ideals of justice and fairness advanced through the arts; Mary Schmidt Campbell shows us how artists and cultural institutions helped New York overcome the economic crisis of the 1970s, bringing new investment and creativity to the city; Deborah Willis traces histories of oppression and disenfranchisement documented by photographers; and Oskar Eustis offers a brief history lesson on how theaters have built communities since the Golden Age of Athens. Other topics include the vibrancy and diversity of Muslim culture in America during a time of rising Islamophobia; the strengthening of the common good through the art and cultural heritages of indigenous communities; digital data aggregation informing and influencing new art forms; and the jazz lyricisms of a theater piece inspired by a composer's two-month coma. Drawing on their experiences across the spectrum of the arts, from the performing and visual arts to poetry and literature, the contributors remind readers that the arts are everywhere and, in one important way after another, they question, charge and change us. These impassioned essays remind us of the human connections the arts can forge--how we find each other through the arts, across the most difficult divides, and how the arts can offer hope in the most challenging times. What answer does this convocation offer to Are the Arts Essential? A resounding Yes.
Alberta Arthurs (Editor) Alberta Arthurs is a Senior Fellow of the John Brademas Center of New York University. As a consultant and commentator, she is active in culture, philanthropy, and higher education. She was the long-time Director for Arts and Humanities at the Rockefeller Foundation, and earlier served as President of Chatham College. She has written and published extensively, including as co-editor of Crossroads: Arts and Religion in American Life. Michael DiNiscia (Editor) Michael F. DiNiscia serves as Deputy Director for Research and Strategic Initiatives of the John Brademas Center of New York University. He is author and editor of several reports on international cultural engagement and the role of arts programs in combating Islamophobia. A member of the Advisory Council of the American Ditchley Foundation, he previously served as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy.