If art plays an important role in the economic and social development of a community, just as the recent Discovery Forum sponsored by Peoria NEXT and ArtsPartners presented, then our area health and social service agencies are leading the way.
Art, in all of its forms, has the potential to improve our lives, improve our communities, and empower our youth for the future. Whether this impact comes from art therapy, art outreach programs, or art education, the impact the arts can have on others is phenomenal.
When individuals experience the wonder of creation, they gain more than just an artistic skill. It provides them with a physical form to constructively express their thoughts and feelings. And in the end, they have something that's their own unique work and entirely their own creation.
The positive influences of art can begin at a young age by adding art education to curricula, preschool programs, and after school programs. Several of our schools, day cares, and human service agencies throughout central Illinois are integrating the arts into their programs because students and youth introduced to art better understand various cultures, and children who have hands-on art experiences develop higher self-esteem.
The arts represent a form of communication that's beyond reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Individuals who have the opportunity to participate in the arts learn to translate ideas, as well as analyze and evaluate them.
Basically, it comes down to two things-the arts, in any community, provide a positive and creative outlet for learning and rehabilitation. Art is healing and life enhancing. It can provide therapy through dance, music, theater, and visual arts. It welcomes people who are hearing and sight impaired, it welcomes people who are emotionally traumatized, and it welcomes anyone with a disability.
Success in art therapy programs comes when students are able to trust in themselves and the people around them-just enough-that they push past their fears and take chances.
Art is for everyone, regardless of status in society, because it creates an impact on the social issues of our times. It sparks our imaginations and, ultimately, brings us all together because of a common human thread that yearns for healthy, safe, and diverse communities. IBI