Why we love the arts: holiday cookies, concerts—and better grades

Arts are what bring life to life!

November and December have to be the most creative months of the year. The arts come alive through so many mediums during the holidays: concerts, recitals, craft fairs, baking, and decorating.

Author Kristin Rapp reminds us that, “Arts are what bring life to life,” in her book, Keeping the Arts Alive: Creating and Sustaining Youth Programs that Matter. Ms. Rapp says creativity can be shared in so many ways: through fashion, hairstyles, cooking, baking, gardening, interior design, photography, writing, painting, making movies, sculpting clay, crafting jewelry, acting, dancing, and knitting. Many of these activities can naturally be channeled toward gift-making and entertaining during the holidays.

Arts beyond the holidays

The arts need to be cultivated and appreciated all year long. Research shows that young people who participate in some kind of artistic activity for at least three hours a week for a whole year are

  • Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • Three times more likely to be elected to class office
  • Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance
  • Two times more likely to perform community service

In other words, participating in the arts helps young people feel motivated and engaged in their schools and communities.

Tips to support the arts

Ms. Rapp, founder and executive director of ArtPeace, Inc., in Rochester, NY, has many ideas about how everyone can advocate for the arts. Her tips include

  • Speak up at parent-teacher-student meetings about successful arts-related endeavors.
  • Attend school board or community council meetings and voice your opposition to arts cuts.
  • Encourage funding for arts as part of core curriculum.
  • Lobby elected official to vote in ways that support arts.
  • Volunteer to teach your special skills at a school, after-school program, or community class.
  • Support a young person’s interest in arts by going to his or her events.
  • Encourage kids to be active creators of media, rather than passive consumers.
  • Cheer on talented local artists and share their work with others.

When January rolls around, the holiday decorations will be stowed away and the cookies will be eaten, but the arts will still be abundant in so many things we take for granted—including restaurant menus, interesting websites, and public billboards. Keep Kristin Rapp’s words in mind: “The arts elevate learning and life.”

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Publish Date: 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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