Issue 66 • Week of April 23, 2023

One of the most brazen attacks ever against the art world occurred this week in 1478 when Pazzi conspirators struck the de’ Medici family in the Florence Cathedral during Easter Mass. Though his brother perished, Renaissance patron Lorenzo the Magnificent survived so that today we can enjoy the works of Botticelli, da Vinci, and Michelangelo among others.

Today, our own artistic future is under a similar threat – not from papal intrigue but a slow death from a thousand cuts. Art and music education have lost nearly one third of their inflation-adjusted budgets over 20 years on top of a 19% decline in overall arts funding, despite that:

  • 88% of Americans consider the arts part of a well-rounded K-12 education and therefore should be included at all three stages: elementary, middle, and high school
  • The arts improves a variety of skills including math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork in addition to compassion
  • Arts and culture contributed over $1 trillion to US GDP in 2021, but this is by no means guaranteed in the future since the Internet has democratized distribution so America could easily lose its creative edge and soft power without continued investment
  • Divergent thinking decreases from 98% in kindergartners to 50% in fourth grade and continues to decline by high school
  • Students need to learn some sort of context for the creative messages and symbols they will encounter everyday

How can we paint a brighter future for the arts?

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