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ImagineNation: the value of cultural learning

May 10, 201710 May 2017

Arts education / Theatre / Social benefits of the arts

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Summarizing secondary research into the value of the arts and arts education, this report from the United Kingdom finds that “arts and culture are a life-enhancing and essential part of our existence". An accompanying report (Key Research Findings: The Case for Cultural Learning) provides further details about the research highlighted in ImagineNation.

The report outlines evidence regarding “four values of cultural learning”: educational, social, economic, and personal value.

Regarding educational value, the summary report indicates that the arts and arts education contribute to knowledge, skills, creativity, resilience, and potential for teachers, artists, parents, students’ careers, and communities. “Arts education contributes to the development of all aspects of a child’s powers and personality. It is as essential as numeracy and literacy in equipping children with the skills for life and the creativity to build a successful nation”.

In terms of social value, the summary report outlines how the arts and arts education contribute to happiness, tolerance, values, empowerment, participation, partnership, collaboration, celebration, cohesion, and ideas. For example, “cultural events and institutions are able to break down perceived barriers between generations, between neighbourhoods, social classes and different world views. They shape the character of a place and define its identity”.

The economic value of the arts stems from contributions to invention, ingenuity, talent, enjoyment, employment, quality, originality, growth, innovation, and imagination. “Evidence shows that children who study the arts tend to do better in other subjects; they are more likely to attend university, and are more employable”.

Regarding personal value, the summary report indicates that the arts and arts education are related to individual empathy, exploration, cooperation, expression, experience, opportunity, agency, confidence, meaning, and memory. On a personal level, “culture helps us to create our own value-systems and to distill and express what we care about, and why”. The arts “act as anchors for our existence; they remind us of who we are and what we can be, they are a source for memories, they provide comfort and joy, they inspire us to act and take risks, and they help us to imagine the lives of others”.

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