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Viewpoints: The value of arts in the region, intrinsic and extrinsic

Published: 8/9/2019 1:21:52 PM

Early this month I celebrated my fifth anniversary as Director of the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts (NHSCA). I continue to be proud to lead this state agency because our work centers on the belief that every Granite Stater should have access to the arts where they live. This point is critical, because the arts aren’t just for people who can buy fifty-dollar tickets and travel to a concert hall, theatre or museum. The arts are for everyone.

I do a lot of speaking about the extrinsic value of the arts, particularly how arts and culture contribute to the economy, but it is the intrinsic value of the arts that is my passion and fuels most of my work. As we participate in the arts, we find that they’re not just something to do, an “add-on.” The arts are essential for living a full life. A study by the Rand Corporation found that people participate in the arts for the intrinsic benefits of arts experiences – pleasure, imagination, meaning, inspiration – not to improve their test scores or stimulate the economy. Indeed, the arts bring beauty, vision, and connection to our lives. They help us communicate, play and relax. They help us understand ourselves and others better.

Immediate benefits come from participating in the arts. As I routinely witness throughout the state, participation motivates people to want to do more. Secondly, people who participate in the arts grow. They communicate more effectively, have more empathy for others, and understand the larger world more fully. And when people share their arts experiences with others, these personal effects spill over into the community, breaking down barriers, enhancing diversity, and fostering a shared community identity.

The arts create a welcoming sense of place, desirable quality of life and vibrant communities, large and small, in New Hampshire. Many areas of the state would not have access to the arts without the State Arts Council. Public support from state and federal governments levels the playing field by ensuring that all New Hampshire citizens – regardless of age, ethnicity, geographic isolation, economic status or disability – benefit from the arts.

I am continually inspired by the depth and breadth of arts and culture in our state, and how the arts benefit individuals and our communities. I look forward to the upcoming Community Conversation about how we can more effectively tell your stories of arts participation, inclusion and impact. The Monadnock region is an arts powerhouse and everyone should know!

Ginnie Lupi is the director of the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.

Lupi will be part of the Ledger-Transcript’s Community Conversation about the value of arts in the region – Tuesday at 7 p.m., Aug. 13 in Bass Hall of the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough – along with state representative Jeanne Dietsch, MacDowell Colony Director David Macy, Arts Alive Director Jessica Gelter, and Glass Museum co-founder Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne.

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