Make America Safe Again…Through the Arts

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Today marks the beginning of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. From today through Thursday, the GOP will focus on a series of issues to be addressed by various party leaders, celebrities, and political figures, and ultimately will solidify Donal Trump’s nomination as the Republican candidate for President.

The Convention is held over four days, and each day the RNC has chosen a theme for the party to reflect on as it approves its party platform and its candidate. The themes are drawn from the campaign slogan used by the Trump campaign, “Make America Great Again”. The theme for each day is as follows:

Monday: Make America Safe Again
Tuesday: Make America Work Again
Wednesday: Make America First Again
Thursday: Make America One Again

We’ll be following the Republican Convention throughout the week, and the Democratic Convention next week, to see if / how the party platforms include the arts in their solutions to our country’s future.

With that in mind, we’ll be posting a new blog each day of each convention. For the Republican Convention, we’ve taken their daily themes and added “…Through the Arts” to demonstrate how the arts can address each day’s topic of choice.

Make America Safe Again…Through the Arts.

Maintaining a safe United States is a primary goal for all of us. We want to feel safe in the community in which we live, and we want to feel safe for our family and friends living elsewhere in the country. And as our leaders look to address various areas of need in relation to the safety of our citizens, we cannot ignore the important impact the arts have on creating safe communities and safe outlets for expression to help us cope with tragedy when it strikes.

The arts have always played a role in our country’s healing process when tragedy hits our home or community. From the proliferation of musicals and films during the Great Depression and World War II to help provide an escape from the harshness of an economic collapse and war, to art exhibits held in cities like Boston after the Boston Marathon bombing, to concerts held for citizens impacted by Superstorm Sandy in the northeast, the arts are a way for us to find comfort in our recovery process.

Cultural spaces and facilities themselves also can serve as places of unity and solitude at the same time, providing a safe environment to contemplate or congregate and process tragedy when it strikes.

But beyond recovery from tragedy and helping us rebuild our safe environments, the arts can be used as as a tool to preempt violence and crime in our communities. Recently, cities like Chicago and Philadelphia have begun using art installations in areas high in crime to create a sense of safety, identifying landmarks that make people explore their community more and become more familiar with their surroundings, and even using music to deter criminals from certain areas. 

The application of art as a direct tool for deterring crime is also catching on. Creating new public spaces, or repurposing dilapidated properties for public use, and including creative design standards and the inclusion of public art or performance spaces help our parks and plazas safe spaces. Collaborating with artists to create innovative solutions for street lighting and infrastructure design are sure fire ways to integrate great aesthetics with safety. Hosting public arts events in public spaces make those spaces come alive and deter criminals from using those spaces for malicious activities.

Internationally, the sharing of our cultural assets with other countries helps others learn more about our American heritage, and helps distill suspicion, fear, and caution when we are met with a culture different than ours.

American artists and arts organizations play a vital role in making American safe. Through creation of work that reflects our attempt to rebuild after tragedy, or through applications that deter crime, the arts are one of many tools in our country’s toolbox to continue to make it safe for everyone.