Global Agenda Council on the Role of the Arts in Society 2012-2013
From visual arts to literature and music to dramatic performance, the arts exert a powerful influence on societal development. Artists often challenge commonly held perspectives with innovative thinking. They raise awareness about social issues, break down barriers to cross-cultural understanding and global dialogue, and inspire creative ideas.
Artists worldwide are important agents of change. Numerous examples demonstrate this fact, such as musical collaboration between opposing sides in conflict zones, therapeutic art to relieve psychological trauma and theatrical productions to promote community regeneration.
In times of financial and political instability, often the arts and culture domains are the first to suffer. Not only does a funding issue impact these institutions, but also the artists themselves have to turn to other occupations to survive. Without them, society loses an important element of its social capital, as well as a part of its history and future.
The endangered nature of the arts and the importance of keeping cultural values at the centre of our economies and societies are gaining recognition. However, the potential of the arts to succeed where traditional policies have failed warrants further examination and support.
Some of the priorities to be addressed include:
- Integrating artists into multistakeholder discussions to find creative solutions to global challenges
- Supporting public art projects to enhance community engagement
- Building cross-cultural dialogue through the arts
- Protecting world heritage for future generations
- In the USA, non-profit arts organizations generate US$ 135 billion in economic activity annually, supporting 4.1 million jobs and generating US$ 22.3 billion in government revenue.
- In 1995, Taiwan launched the Community Construction Movement, a long-term programme to revitalize local communities. Since then, 25 museums devoted to Taiwan’s indigenous groups have been established and now play a crucial role in the creation of a collective memory.
- University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare and lower poverty rates.
- Numerous studies affirm that students who receive music education in school improve their SAT and ACT scores in math, foreign language and creative writing.
“Arts are not the icing on the cake, but much more the yeast, and such a significant language for change.”
Mallika Sarabhai, Dancer and Director, Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, India
“I go to the ordinary people to hear their voices and to hear their plight. And through my music and the arts and the platform that I have, I am able to disseminate this information to the powers that be.”
Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Singer and President, Princess of Africa Foundation, South Africa
“Art has always been a mirror of society. Art reflects society, art criticizes it, and art always offers solutions to problems in society.”
Senam Okudzeto, Artist, Founder and Director, Art in Social Structures, Ghana
Making the case for the arts in society
Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011, Ed. Nato Thompson, Creative Time Books, 2012
Annual Meeting of the New Champions, Closing Plenary - Arts and Culture in Society is mentioned at 38’45’’
Wasteland, a documentary film
A Motherland Tour: A Journey of African Women with Yvonne Chaka Chaka, a documentary film
Festival of Non-Violence through the Arts
30 January 2013
55th International Art Exhibition
1 June – 24 November 2013
Venice Biennale, Italy
13-16 June 2013
8th International Conference on the Arts in Society
24-26 June 2013
The Council aims to accelerate and innovate ways the arts can be harnessed as a force for societal change. The 2012-14 term will focus on three strategic areas:
- Documenting and disseminating best practice case studies (through an interactive Web portal) of using the arts for global change, by interacting with business, government and civil society
- The Council views the arts as an underutilized force of transformation; through best practice examples, non-artists can better integrate these into their objectives. In the business sector, the portal can highlight examples of using the arts for human resource development, education, training, innovation and a platform for engaging with society.
- Integrating the arts into programming at Forum events, to demonstrate the transformative effect of art in considering challenges and opportunities on the global stage
- Subsequent to the Council’s belief that the arts are underutilized, the Forum provides a platform for government, business and civil society leaders to experience first-hand the transformative power of the arts. The Forum is also well positioned to be an example of how the arts are critical in the development of empathy, self-actualization and a coherent vision for the future in countries around the world. Artists will also benefit personally, by being part of the Forum programming, giving their work a wider audience and contributing to the debates on the future state of the world.
- Working in partnership with other Global Agenda Councils to shift consciousness on the power of arts for social change across issues and geographical lines
- The Council recognizes the opportunity to integrate the arts into other critical issues; by collaborating with other Councils, this Network can be leveraged to develop groundbreaking partnerships not often available.
Research Analyst: Lina Borén, Senior Associate, Global Agenda Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Manager: Fanny Olivier, Senior Programme Associate, Programme Development Team, email@example.com
Forum Lead: Mireille Bertolini, Associate Director Arts and Culture, Programme Development Team, firstname.lastname@example.org