Art affects our community’s well-being

By: Judy Bruce 

How can the arts affect a community’s well-being? We know that exercise and healthy eating are important, but there is also increasing evidence that engagement with the arts improves physical and mental health.

How can that be?  For starters, folks who take part in the arts are 38% more likely to report good health.  Over 70% of practitioners believe that public engagement with the arts supports illness prevention.  The arts area is a great way to reduce stress and practice mindfulness. Several hours can go by while I work in my studio in what seems like the cliche, a “blink of an eye.” 

Exercising creativity allows us to take our minds off stressful situations and or express complex emotions. 

According to Thomas Tesser of Art Partners in Chicago, exposure to and participation in art projects, such as classes found at the Sonoran Arts League Studio, gives people a voice to express themselves.  Participating in an arts program puts people in touch with their heritage and helps give a definition to community pride and solidarity.  Art works on our imagination and fires up our creative engines.  By changing our inner worlds, we can change the world around us.  Art often creates beauty and order where there appears to be none.  Making art and experiencing art is an act of hope and renewal. 

Participating in community art programs may not put bread in the mouth, but it certainly provides a rich and nourishing spiritual meal that is too often underrated. 

As an arts educator, I saw students become more self-aware, creative, empathetic, visual, and able to solve problems more readily.  Children and adolescents exposed to an art curriculum strong on design were able to make more sophisticated aesthetic choices.  All of these things are invaluable to their future employers.  We are so fortunate that our local schools provide strong art programs for our students and that our local Kiwanis of Carefree helps provide youth summer classes along with the Sonoran Arts League in the League Studio. 

Our fabulous businesswoman of the English Rose Tea Room, Jo Gemmill, says,” Imagine if we lived in a community WITHOUT art!  No galleries, no exhibitions, no concerts, no theater, no music, no sculptures, no color! Art isn’t just a painting that hangs on your wall.  It is the way you choose to express yourself, the way you choose to decorate your life, enrich your surroundings, and connect with others.  Art is communication, and a community will only thrive if it has the freedom to communicate through art.”  

Yes, art does affect our community’s well-being, and yes, as always, “You Gotta Have Art”!