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Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts

  • October 24, 2011
  • By a2ru      
Advocates of the arts inside and outside educational settings often resort to “instrumental” claims for the value of the arts…


 

Advocates of the arts inside and outside educational settings often resort to “instrumental” claims for the value of the arts: we should support the arts because they make kids smarter, make communities wealthier, prevent the elderly from slipping into dementia and loneliness. This RAND Corporation report examines the validity and persuasive value of these instrumental arguments, and maintains that a greater focus should be placed on “intrinsic” benefits of the arts, such as joy, wonder, pleasure, and a sense of well-being. The authors demonstrate how much these intrinsic benefits, often treated as “merely” private, contribute to the cohesion and well-being of communities. Their framework for understanding the benefits of the arts – considering instrumental and intrinsic benefits on a scale from private, to private with public spillover, to public – is thought-provoking, as are their recommendations for building demand for the arts.

McCarthy, Kevin F., Elizabeth H. Ondaatje, Laura Zakaras, and Arthur Brook. Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts. RAND Corporation, 2004.