The arts seemed more encouraged when I was a child. Sure, there were some obvious biases (saying that playing music improves math skills sort of implies that math is more important, at least to me, and they were either electives or on a three-day rotation instead of being an every day, every year class), but still heard constantly how awesome these activities were for my intelligence and well being and isn't it so awesome that I'm playing flute and writing.
And then I get into the adult world, and I so often see things about how the arts in schools are being threatened, and we need to protect them. I don't think that this is wrong, but I feel like we're looking at too small a picture.
Occasionally there will be a call for help supporting the "higher" arts or drum corps. It's a cool hobby to have. But for the most part, no one gives a damn about arts in the "real" world. As if suddenly, its worth for the individual vanishes when they grow up unless they are looking at making a career of it... and even then, that's often considered a foolish ambition.
I don't know. I started thinking about this because I've recently discovered that I like some folk music. And how that term probably came about to differentiate between "common" music and the kind of music that'd be played at court or what have you (not that I've looked this up). If we were to define a folk music for our current time, it'd mostly just be amateur covers of famous songs. Karaoke, maybe djing for drunken idiots kind-of-sort-of dancing. And at least to me, that seems really sad.
I'd agree that the arts have a place in school. But I also feel like as a larger society we need to get out of the audience more often. I'm just musing, maybe this is silly. But I do think that either the arts don't matter or they matter for life, it doesn't make sense that the benefits dissipate... and I certainly don't believe that being artistic is worthless.
When I create, I see things about myself and the world that I may not otherwise. Dancing makes me happy, and occasionally even that most abstract art form helps me see the world through a different lens, or feel empowered. Writing helps me focus my thoughts so I can see them, and alter them as needed (i.e. being negative). I'd like to think, perhaps, that I have a greater creative drive than the majority, but I also suspect that such a drive is present in everyone. I see it in the number of people who enjoy art back in grade school, and the fact that enjoyment of music is all but universal. But it is so often lost....
I don't know how to change this picture, but it does seem quite off.