What will the next 50 years be like for the kids of today? An educated guess suggests that it will be more multinational, multicultural, digital, real, virtual, and it will use music and images as much as words. It will be both more hopeful and more frightening than any era in the past and, due to the now projected 8 billion humans in 2050, insanely competitive. The coin of the realm in this world will be ideas; ideas born out of creative thinking and concentrated, cultivated, heightened imagination.
So, let's ask ourselves, how important are the arts? The arts enhance every aspect of the brain from reading, math and critical thinking to social skills and motivation. Playing music, performing, making movies, painting, writing, sculpting etc. all trigger, develop, and cultivate imagination.
Art mediums turn imagination into action; into reality or virtual reality. The arts build teamwork, community, spirit and are common ground for the disadvantaged. Arts, woven into a curriculum, change "have-to" into "want-to". The arts are also often the link holding at-risk kids in school as well, but I digress.
For the last two years I have been part of a children's presentation at the San Juan Community Theatre and have seen kids on a daily basis for over a month at a time in a highly concentrated performance setting. Some respond by achieving remarkable insight and success, others not so much. But all, I believe, are excited and enhanced by the imaginative experience.
The ability to learn, deliver lines and lyrics, move in an expressive way, work as a team, develop imaginative characters and reap the rewards of performance is an experience that informs their lives and leaves them with a sense of accomplishment and an appreciation of both the art and the craft that becomes part of who they are.
The arts provide indispensable tools and coping skills for the kids of today, who will need all the ideas from their imagination that they can summon in order to succeed in the world of tomorrow.
The ones with the greatest imaginations will be both the greatest beneficiaries and the greatest contributors to our society. Exposure to the arts is the most important gift that you can give to your child's imagination - and imagination will be their most important asset as adults in the world of tomorrow.
President SJCAC Steering Committee