By Carolyn Wright/Gwinnett Citizen 2017
The title of my new column “Art Matters” has a dual meaning and purpose for me. As the owner of an art gallery and lover of all the arts, you might say of course art would matter to me, it’s my business and you would be right. However, in a broader sense, art matters far beyond the scope of my world. It matters in our schools, our communities, our culture and it matters to our humanity. So, I hope that you will join me as we explore some of the ways art matters particularly in Gwinnett County, and the positive impact it has on our community.
Often, the arts is one of the first areas to lose funding during economic downturns or budget cuts and one of the last areas to be reinvigorated financially. Studies have proven that students who are exposed to arts education and training for several years (visual arts, music, dance, theater etc.) score higher on tests and experience lower dropout rates. Arts education and involvement stimulates the brain in a different way than science, math and technology. Both are essential to the development of a well-rounded, creative, I can work with others, think outside the box type individual. This dual approach to education, training the logical as well as the creative part of the brain, is exactly what a corporation desires in its employees.
Here’s what some titans of industry have had to say about the importance of arts in education:
The late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple said in 2011 during the introduction of the iPad2, “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”
“GE hires a lot of engineers. We want young people who can do more than add up a string of numbers and write a coherent sentence. They must be able to solve problems, communicate ideas and be sensitive to the world around them. Participation in the arts is one of the best ways to develop these abilities.” - Clifford V. Smith, President of General Electric Foundation
Joseph M. Calahan, Director of Cooperate Communications, Xerox Corporation said “Arts education aids students in skills needed in the workplace: flexibility, the ability to solve problems and communicate, the ability to learn new skills, to be creative and innovative, and to strive for excellence.
”Lastly, this quote really sums it up for me, "I believe that creativity will be the currency of the 21st century." – Gerald Gordon, Ph.D., President/CEO, Fairfax County (Virginia) Economic Development Authority.
Okay, so what does this mean for our community, for Gwinnett County. I’m so glad you asked! Gwinnett is a great place to live, with many fantastic schools (some of the best not just in metro Atlanta, but the nation), the most diverse population of any county in Georgia, world class higher education and medical facilities, nationally recognized park system and affordable housing options. There are lots of folks who recognize Gwinnett’s greatness as evidenced by the fact that Gwinnett is growing at three (3) times the rate of other counties in the region.
The arts in various forms, museums and galleries, theatre, ballet, film and television production, music and national touring entertainment are all present and growing in Gwinnett. Even with all the great things going on in our county, we can’t just stand on our laurels. We must keep looking for ways to grow and develop that give us the best possible quality of life, while supporting healthy economic growth and development. Art matters because in every great community, the arts have a large role to play in its long-term success. In the months to follow, I will highlight new and exciting arts related events, spotlight local artists and hopefully start a conversation as to how we can advance awareness of and appreciation for the arts, because Art Matters!
Carolyn Wright is an Atlanta native and a resident of Snellville, Georgia since 1987. Carolyn describes herself as a lover of art, world traveler and a student of life. She and her sister Sylvia Culberson own The LONA Gallery.