There is such value and sanctity in the concept of community. Whether it’s a gathering of individuals who share a commonality in terms of religious beliefs, interests, or goals…or simply a group of people who live and exist in the same place, the importance of community should not be overlooked. We are often shaped – and influenced – by where we come from and who we surround ourselves with.
But cultivating community, healthy community, takes work.
One way to keep a community alive and vital is through art.
It brings people together. Art often represents the culture, beliefs, ideologies, religion, history, or convictions of its creator. When we see a part of ourselves reflected in social spaces, it helps us feel connected with the person – or people – who are behind it; it creates a bond that can transcend race, economic status, age, or education.
It creates a sense of community pride. We all want to be proud of where we come from, and when we are, we’ll fight hard to protect it and contribute to it. Art can invigorate public spaces, create a sense of identity, and be a reflection of the unique characteristics of the community it represents.
It creates social well-being. Communities need places for intellectual stimulation and opportunities for personal enrichment. Just as public parks and libraries give their community members access to physical activity and reading, art allows people to participate in discourse and discussion they may not find elsewhere.
It can reinforce a healthier lifestyle. Multiple studies have shown that engaging in creative activities (dance, painting, music, sculpture, etc.) positively impact a person’s overall mood and can reduce anxiety and stress. Even looking at art can have the same effects. An art-centric community will be a community of individuals participating in the health benefits of art, either as creators or observers.
It inspires future generations. Who are the children looking up to? Celebrating and honoring art and artists – in all its many forms – demonstrates that it is a critical component of a successful and thriving community, not just something added as an afterthought. You’ll allow them to express themselves, participate in creative endeavors, and maybe even inspire a few to turn it into a career.
Art is so much more than murals painted on the sides of buildings or free exhibits. It’s the heartbeat of a community and should be valued and celebrated.
Share your thoughts. Have you seen firsthand the positive difference art has made in the community you’re part of?