When I created My Kindness Calendar and was choosing the original 25 Acts of Kindness to include, one came to mind right away: Support the Arts. It may not be one of the first things that pops to mind when you think about being kind, but for me, it was a given! Once upon a time, before my parenting and entrepreneurial days (you know, the “old days” that all us parents look back on fondly), I was an artist! I studied opera at university, and spent my entire childhood in theatre, music, dance and more. It was formative. The foundational values and skills that my experience in the arts provided me with - communication, empathy, self-confidence, teamwork, I could go on - have served me so well in life. And while I have gone in another direction as life takes its twists and turns, I still have so many artists in my network. It is not an easy field nor an easy life! Yet one that makes all of our life experiences so much richer, helping us tap into emotions and experiences. So needless to say, supporting the arts is close to my heart for the value that art provides, as is exposing kids to the arts, for the sake of their own development.
Why are the arts important for kids' development
Art - in all its many forms (music, theatre, dance, visual art, and so more) engages children emotionally and intellectually. As early as they begin developing their own unique language, young children use art to express themselves. Evidence suggests that an involvement in art in its many forms has positive effects on people’s lives in so many different ways. It improves mental well-being, reduces stress levels, increases empathy for others, promotes pro-social behaviour, decreases aggression, and aids with coping skills when facing life challenges. A recent study from Rice University suggests that arts education is correlated with "reductions in disciplinary infractions, increases in compassion for others and improvements in writing achievement". Not bad, hey?
How music, art, and theatre help kids with emotional intelligence, empathy building and social-emotional development
Music, art, and theatre have long been known to improve children's cognitive skills, such as memory, attention, concentration, problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Research shows that listening to music during childhood can lead to improved reading comprehension, vocabulary, and math abilities. In addition, playing instruments, singing, dancing, painting, sculpting, drawing, acting, and filmmaking all contribute to creative expression and imagination. These activities also promote social skills, including cooperation, leadership and conflict resolution.
The arts provide an opportunity for children to explore different cultures and learn about other people through performance or observation. Art allows us to see things from multiple perspectives, understand others' feelings, and think critically. The building blocks of empathy and understanding.
Participating in the arts can also help children in developing a sense of belonging and connection to the community. They may develop friendships with peers who share similar interests and talents. The arts teach children how to work cooperatively as members of a team and towards a common goal. Children often enjoy working together with friends and family to create something new, whether it’s a play or a piece of artwork. The arts are an incredible and strong community.
What Acts of Kindness can my child do for the arts
If you want to give back to the world, there is nothing better than supporting the arts. The arts are an integral part of human culture and history. They provide inspiration, education, entertainment, and much more.
Supporting and exposing kids to the arts is something you can do with your littles early on, in simple and easy ways. This will ensure that they grow up learning about the importance of the arts, especially given the recent impact on the arts community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here are some ideas:
- Go to a gallery opening or museum exhibit
- Attend a music concert
- Watch a play
- Visit a theatre
- Listen to a live performance
- Read books about famous artists
The impact of COVID-19 on the art community
Recent estimates suggest that the arts and culture industries represent 2.8% of Canadian GDP and 3.8% of jobs and 4.5% of direct GDP contributions to the US economy.
Unfortunately, this sector of the economy has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Some estimates suggest that 70-90% of artists are self-employed and are more vulnerable to temporary downturns to the economy. Many rely on small businesses like galleries or cafes for their income. The impact of this pandemic on these community and associated businesses has been devastating. More than ever, the arts community is in need of support.
What you can do to support the arts remotely (during COVID or otherwise)
During times where in-person gatherings are limited there are still ways that you can support the arts, either financially or by sharing with others.
Free ways to support local artists and organizations can be to:
- Share a local artist with your friends
- Attend online performances
- Request a song on the radio
- Look at public outdoor art installations
- Interact with artists on social media - like comment and susbcribe!
And of course, by taking music, art, theatre or dance classes themselves, our little people can become the next generation of great artists and learn to appreciate by doing!