By Sarah Huffman
The summer before I started college, I decided that I was done with theater. It took over my whole life in high school, and I knew I didn’t want to pursue it as a career, so continuing to put so much time and effort towards it seemed like a waste.
Fast forward a year and a half, and I am not only a member of all three theater groups on campus, but I can confidently say I don’t know where I would be without those clubs. In fact, I am writing this article while sitting in a lighting booth.
I am grateful every day that I succumbed to peer pressure the first week of freshman year and went with my roommate to the first Mimes and Mummers interest meeting. Being part of this community has made me realize that even though I don’t want to pursue an arts career, there is still so much I can learn from the arts that I can apply to whatever I decided to do one day.
Most people are forced to take a few art and music classes throughout grade school as a way of being exposed to the arts, but very few students take them seriously. In my experience, people take art and music classes to get through the requirement, but don’t think any further about what they’re learning.
The core subjects of science, math, history and language arts are always labelled as the most important — and don’t get me wrong, they are important — and the arts always seem to be an afterthought and something that schools want to incorporate, but don’t emphasize.
Often times, art is written off because becoming a successful musician or actor is so rare. People assume that you’ll never make it if you want to be an artist.
I understand that there is a select group that want to pursue a career in a performing or visual arts field, but that does not mean continued exposure is not important for everyone.
The lack of emphasis can be seen best when compared to other fields. For example, athletes are celebrated for doing what they love and even people who are not interested in sports are encouraged to participate. Most people recognize the physical and mental benefits of participating in a sport, but the same is not done for the arts.
There are so many benefits to participating in an artistic activity. According to PBS, decision making, self-esteem, inventiveness and cultural awareness are just a few of the benefits of exposure and regular practice of arts activities.
It is unpopular for people to avoid partaking in sports culture, but it is socially acceptable for someone to avoid partaking in arts culture. People recognize that it is hard to become a professional athlete but they are still encouraged to play sports and pursue something they love as a hobby.
The same needs to be done for the arts. There are so many benefits people can reap from both the performing and visual arts even if they don’t wish to pursue it professionally. The popular opinion that arts are not worth it needs to change.
Being an artist requires discipline and patience to learn your craft and learn it well. It is not easy to learn how to play an instrument or learn painting techniques.
Participating in theater allows one to work on their team building skills as part of a cast and crew and requires creative thinking.
The practical and creative skills that are exercised through art can also benefit people in the “real world.” It is valuable to be a creative thinker, to be persistent and to be a team player in a professional work environment.
I have learned so much through my time in theater including practical technical skills and creative problem solving.
I am so grateful for everything I have learned through my experiences with performing arts. Thank you to my theater families of the past and present; I would not be who I am today without you all and the experiences we have shared.
The importance of art for people’s development and well-being should be emphasized more than it usually is because there are so many benefits people can reap from the arts.