Make America First Again…Through the Arts.
If there is one thing a presidential election does for our country, it reignites a fervent patriotism in every person. Whether you love where our country is, or whether you hate it, there’s room for every opinion and passion during the circus we call a presidential election. And if there’s one thing that every voting citizen will agree on, it’s that America should be the first in every positive ranking in the world. #1 Best Schools, #1 Best Flag, or #1 Best Drive Through Restaurants. You name it.
While everyone will have a different opinion on if “Make America First Again” means that we’re not first in anything to begin with, today we take a look at if we want to be first in any of the major measures we toss around, we should look at how the arts can help. We will certainly do a disservice to each category we mention as we won’t dive deep into any of them, that’s what the other posts in this Convention Blog Series are for, but it’s important to see the scope of how the arts impact America is very broad, and if we want to “first” in any of these categories, we’re going to have to either continue to use the arts, or learn to include them.
We talked about this in yesterday’s post. But essentially, the arts and culture sector accounts for 3.9% of the US GDP and over $700 billion of economic impact across the country.
With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in December of 2015, every child in America will benefit from a “well-rounded” education that includes “the arts” in its definition. The flexibility given to states and local districts also means that we can have a more immediate and meaningful impact on how our own children are educated and can be sure the arts are included in the daily schedule.
Having a strong education, that includes the arts, is key in our graduates getting jobs. Creative problem solving, team work, ability to lead, and more “soft skills” are engrained in regular arts training. Some of the “hard skills” of art classes are vital as well – from performing on a stage, to building sets, to selling your work, and much more, arts education not only makes better artists, it makes better employees for everyone.
Quality of Life
The number of cities and towns knowingly and willingly using the arts to make their communities a more vibrant place for residents, visitors, and businesses grows each day. City leaders want essentially three things for their communities: safety, people, and things to do. The arts are a way to draw people in to communities through carefully planned and managed events or facilities. Quite simply, the arts give people something to do after work and on the weekends. But beyond that, these types of experiences bond community members together with their neighbors and friends and become the glue that keeps a community together. Traditions are born out of these cultural experiences, ideas explored, issues addressed, and a love for your hometown emerges.
You may be surprised to learn that the arts have always played a role in our military. During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington encouraged, and attended, performances of theatrical productions in his camps. In World War II, the “Ghost Army“, made of soldiers with experience in set building, lighting, audio engineering, and painting were used to create decoy Army encampments to distract Nazi forces. And let’s not forget the Marine Band who performs at every Inauguration.
When our Veterans return from war, the arts play another vital role in recovery. From “Blue Star Museums“, who open their doors for free to military personnel and their families Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, to rehabilitation programs that use the arts as a way to bring Veterans together and navigate their new lives. The arts are crucial to helping our Veterans upon their return.
The arts are a part of what make America “first” in any aspect of our lives. Whether you think we’re already first in these categories, or that we need more work in all of them, there’s no denying that the arts should be seen as a way to strengthen our country.
The 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio is underway. Through Thursday, July 21, the GOP will focus on a series of issues to be addressed by various party leaders, celebrities, and political figures, and ultimately will solidify Donald 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.