Arts Emergency

Why the Arts & Humanities Matter

1) THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES ARE USEFUL

BA courses teach students to think rigorously and to articulate their thoughts clearly and creatively in writing and other forms.

These skills do not date (unlike many of those taught on vocational training programmes), they will equip students for long-term career development in a rapidly changing professional workplace, and they will always be in demand.

Higher levels of professional advancement are attained by arts and humanities graduates than by graduates of vocational degrees.

Education is the biggest factor in promoting genuine social mobility. The arts and humanities promote an education that does not assume its students occupy a fixed place in society.

2) THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES PROMOTE A JUST SOCIETY

Regardless of political beliefs, we cannot decide what is good and desirable without the thinking that the humanities make possible.

The ability to evaluate what is just, what is fair, and what is inherently good is nurtured in arts and humanities disciplines (or in disciplines that take recourse to the fundamental questions we ask). Many disciplines will only ask: ‘Will it make money?’ or ‘Is it useful?’ In insisting that we must ask ‘Is it good?’, ‘Is it just?’ we ensure the moral sustainability of our culture.

The very notion of democracy itself is a humanistic concept and can only be explained through the values and concepts taught in the humanities. The withdrawal of funding for the arts and humanities is anti-democratic.

3) THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES MAKE MONEY

In the UK, for example, the government’s investment in the arts is more than doubled in its return to the economy.

The UK’s economy is dependent on its media, culture, and tourism. These fields are fueled by the creativity of arts and humanities graduates.
By diminishing the support of and access to arts and humanities degrees, we risk damaging one of the most valuable and dynamic engines of the British economy.

4) THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES CONSERVE OUR BEST TRADITIONS AND SUSTAIN WHAT IS BEST IN OUR WAY OF LIFE

University education was founded on humanistic learning. The drastic withdrawal of public support for humanities teaching and research puts our best traditions at risk.

Arts and humanities disciplines teach us to know and to question what we inherit from past generations.
We risk losing a vital connection to the complexity of our history and, in doing so, we invite a future that is impoverished, in more ways than one.

5) THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES ARE OPEN TO EVERYONE

Teaching students to read poetry or philosophy or how to understand a painting or a film are not elite pursuits, although they will increasingly become so if public funding is withdrawn.
The humanities are founded on the conviction that everyone can be educated and that culture is for everyone. Elitism assumes that only some people are interested in or have the time for humanistic learning.

6) THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES ARE AN ESSENTIAL ARENA FOR EXPERIMENTAL THOUGHT

The arts and humanities often focus on experimental thought; that is, they foster thought beyond the norms of the present.

Without the capacity to think beyond repetition there is no beyond to crisis.

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