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Date: Feb 14, 2017

Arts are all around you.” Yes, this brazenly borrows a theme from Love Actually’s signature song.  But look around.

Paintings by Baltimore County artists hang on restaurant walls, in community galleries and performing arts center lobbies. Kids watch their first play, young men discover ballet, and fifth graders swirl to ballroom dancing. Jazz fills senior centers, chamber music comes to chapels and choral choirs sing at colleges. A modern barn mural and land art surprise us at the Baltimore County Agricultural center. 

At a time when the arts could feel like a luxury, their value is greater than ever.

Bottom-line economic impact

More than 5,900 people work in 1,853 arts-related creative businesses in Baltimore County, according to Dunn & Bradstreet. So whether you are an artist at a game development studio, photographer, theater director, musician, advertising writer, designer, television producer or on the film crew, you’re in good company in Baltimore County.

The arts help us learn, and there’s data to prove it.

Low-income Baltimore City Public Schools students who participated in a 2016 arts-related summer academic program from Young Audiences avoided summer learning loss and, in many cases, gained ground on their national peers in standardized testing, according to evaluations. 

Regardless of socioeconomic status or school district, 3rd graders who participate in high-quality music programs score higher on reading and spelling tests, according to a study published in Advanced Cognitive Psychology.

Students who study art are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and three times more likely to be awarded for school attendance, according to The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

The arts enrich our lives. 

As part of an exhibition at the Asian Arts & Culture Center at Towson University, visitors were asked to share their thoughts around this idea:  “People around the world create art in order to _____.” Here are just a few of the more than 200 responses.

Have fun. Be creative. Maintain sanity.

Express their deepest struggles and greatest joys for others to see.

Set themselves free. Be heard.

Teach. Believe. Inspire.

Open minds to new ideas. Make the world more beautiful. Encourage happiness. Speak one soul to another. Unite communities. See the world in a different way. Deliver a message that can’t be said otherwise.

Share life stories and testimonies. Express universal truth.

Relax. Live fully. Connect.  

At a time when having a good connection means having good Wi-Fi, the arts make the case for human connections. Today is an especially good day to love the arts. 

By Fronda Cohen, Director, Baltimore County Arts & Sciences Commission

Revised October 16, 2020               
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