The arts, both performing and visual, are part of our humanity. They are what makes us human. Different from the sciences, which are predictable and governed by laws of nature, the arts provide us a variety of ways to express ourselves. We can express our feelings and our opinions through the various arts.
The arts can be seen as a reflection of their society, rather than driven by their society. This is a major reason why we study the history of the arts. It’s an excellent way to understand the time period, by seeing what the artists were expressing. For example, when you look at the 19th century, it’s easier to understand the time period when you consider the Romantics’ rebellion against Neoclassicism and the Academy. Many times in history, the arts have been used to express ideas that were not acceptable in their society. Playwrights across time have used their art to criticize their world – Garcia Lorca, Bertolt Brecht, Arthur Miller, to name just a few.
Also, the arts provide us with aesthetic qualities. Imagine how gray our world would be if not for the beauty of a Monet painting, a Beethoven symphony, an August Wilson play. Taking time to appreciate this beauty is what makes us human, and that’s a very important quality to hang on to, especially in these days of budget cuts and technological innovation.