In United States and other countries around the globe, noticeable steps have been implemented to ensure that public perception of the arts is strengthened. At the same time, the value of the artists and art has been recognized globally because of its ability to strengthen communities (Belfiore & Bennett, 2008). Despite the significant progress, artists are still perceived to be less important by a majority of Americans. According to a survey conducted in 2007, only 27 percent of Americans perceive that artists are important whereas an overwhelming 74 percent believes that art is beneficial to a country (Pettit & DiMaggio, 1998). Throughout history, an art is a unifying factor that benefits individual and society as a whole. With arts and music people can relate well in a collective environment. This paper presents literature review for public perception of the arts and the disconnection between the value of art and the value of artists.
According to Belfiore & Bennett (2008) art make use of a language that can be understood by all people in the world and all cultures, as well. Art smooth advancement in various traditions, as well as global perspective? For art to be recognized by the public it should be embraced by community members. This means that should reflect a realm of cross-cultural experiences as opposed to a private encounter. Art can truly be public if it transcends the artist, individual viewer or the object and connect with the spirit and culture of the public. This implies that the art should recognize the artist’s part played by the public.
In America arts is one of the imperative issues that are discussed in cultural debates. Unfortunately, American ideologies classify art as a luxury endeavor and as a result the government is reluctant in providing funds towards arts programs. The perception of the public does not support arts, and this will obstruct development of art in American education and culture.
In order to understand the value of the artists and arts, it is essential to analyze the functioning of arts in society. Arts can be looked at in three dimensions: as a tool of belief and value, as tools of expressions, and as a tool that influence social organization. One of the works of the arts is to influence society and at the same time, acts as a tool of evaluating an individual’s experience. It is with the knowledge that one acquire from the arts that lead to approval of other social events. Eyerman and McCormick’s theory asserts that art is a social activity that engages diverse individuals and establishes relationships through collective works. Arts promote social interactions among individuals through cohesive engagement.
In order to look at American perceptions of the arts, researchers maintain the need to understand the development of a number of American ideologies. Max Weber argues that American beliefs are based on Puritan beliefs and this is still ingrained in their perceptions about the arts. Puritan beliefs dissociate individuals from pursuing creative desires and stress the need to study sciences. Weber tries to communicate the negative aspect of Puritan deliberation toward the arts and how these thoughts are embedded in America. These sentiments are echoed by Vera Zolberg through her studies on reasons sociologists did not learn about the arts at first.
Etlin, (2002) maintains that the diverse interpretations and perception of the arts among individuals is based on taste preferences as well as opinions. In most cases there is polarization of the views of the arts, as either elitist or too commercialized. As a result, the arts are scorned from all corners of the globe, reinforcing an artistic hierarchy to be developed. The hierarchy further lowers the reputation and taste of the arts. The classification of the arts as either fine or popular arts is corrosive since it will cluster them according to social status, hence diminishing its value. Public perception of the arts relies mostly on personal engagement and not social status.
The developments after World War II prompted government funding of the fine arts. Originally the support of the arts by central government was minimal. The adjustment attracted contributions from other private, philanthropic and corporate organizations. At present, the government is committed in supporting arts and this according to Etlin, (2002) elicits the need to change perceptions and approach to, as well as accessibility of the arts. Americans still perceive that the decline in government support of the arts due to a recessionary and stagnant economy will affect arts-based school programs.
Furthermore, the public perspective concerning government incorporation of the arts in the curriculum of schools is positive. Morris & Pankratz, (2003) asserts that the public beliefs that arts education will develop innovation and creativity of a child, as a result American culture is enriched and economy developed, as well. The value of the arts is immense since it contributes to personal and communal improvements. Some of the benefits include; improvement of student achievement, increase student progression rate in academic ladder and reduce indiscipline cases. Individuals are able to attain new skills and an improvement in the levels of their engagement.
The arts influence development of people either culturally or intellectually; hence its ability to define communities. At individual level, the arts produce a wide range of benefits in terms of physical, emotional, cognitive and social benefits. It also guide behavior since it promotes self-satisfaction and self-discipline, at the same time boost confidence levels and lower stress levels.
Surveys reveal that attendance of individuals of the art events decreased from 6.1 in 2002 to 5.2 in 2008. Individuals’ levels of education also guide their perception towards arts. Those with higher educational levels view arts as a tool of value that can transform an individual’s interests (Pettit & DiMaggio, 1998). Those with lower education perceive arts as a preserve of the elite; hence have little value in their normal lives.
In reference to Pettit & DiMaggio (1998) statements, the public perceive that artists have significant value because through artistic work people become creative and innovative. This will lead to creation of new frontiers in research and development. Artist helps individuals to escape worst and stressful situations since they can identify and relate with dissimilar emotions in music. From an economic perspective, artist will boost economic growth since they earn a lot of liquid assets from their artistic work. The money can be invested in the country with a promise of great returns in terms of employment creation and taxes (Morris & Pankratz, 2003).
Belfiore, E., & Bennett, O. (2008). The social impact of the arts: an intellectual history. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Etlin, R. A. (2002). Art, culture, and media under the Third Reich. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Morris, V. B., & Pankratz, D. B. (2003). The arts in a new millennium: research and the arts sector. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.
Pettit, B., & DiMaggio, P. (1998). Public sentiments towards the arts: a critical reanalysis of 13 opinion surveys. Princeton, N.J.: Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Princeton University.