Are the Arts Essential?

Item # 152622.

Edited by Alberta Arthurs and Michael DiNiscia.  

In the midst of a devastating pandemic, as theaters, art galleries and  museums, dance stages and concert halls shuttered their doors  indefinitely and institutional funding for entertainment and culture  evaporated almost overnight, a cohort of highly acclaimed scholars,  artists, cultural critics, and a journalist sat down to ponder an urgent  question: Are the arts essential?

Across twenty-five highly  engaging essays, these luminaries join together to address this question  and to share their own ideas, experiences, and ambitions for the arts.  Darren Walker discusses the ideals of justice and fairness advanced  through the arts; Mary Schmidt Campbell shows us how artists and  cultural institutions helped New York overcome the economic crisis of  the 1970s, bringing new investment and creativity to the city; Deborah  Willis traces histories of oppression and disenfranchisement documented  by photographers; and Oskar Eustis offers a brief history lesson on how  theaters have built communities since the Golden Age of Athens. Other  topics include the vibrancy and diversity of Muslim culture in America  during a time of rising Islamophobia; the strengthening of the common  good through the art and cultural heritages of indigenous communities;  digital data aggregation informing and influencing new art forms; and  the jazz lyricisms of a theater piece inspired by a composer’s two-month  coma.

Drawing on their experiences across the spectrum of the  arts, from the performing and visual arts to poetry and literature, the  contributors remind readers that the arts are everywhere and, in one  important way after another, they question, charge and change us. These  impassioned essays remind us of the human connections the arts can  forge—how we find each other through the arts, across the most difficult  divides, and how the arts can offer hope in the most challenging times.  

What answer does this convocation offer to Are the Arts Essential? A resounding Yes. 

Hardbound: 378 pp.




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