I have always been extremely passionate about participating in the arts as a way to increase our sense of community and connection to one another. It's simply part of my DNA. But I'm certainly not the only one who believes in this superpower. The Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice conducted an extensive study in New York City from 2014-2016 and found that "cultural resources are “significantly” linked to better health, schooling, and security" and that it builds stronger communities. If you would like to read the study results, click here. This is just one study. I could go on, but I won't bore you proving the obvious.
So given my strong opinions on this, you can only imagine how thrilled I was when asked by the organizer of the "Belmont Village Bestival" (a local arts festival) to head up a portion of the visual arts component for the event. I am literally over the moon! On Sept 15th, I get to teach three workshops on abstract painting as well as host a Live Painting Competition, all designed to help the community better understand visual arts and break down barriers that prevent engagement in the arts on a personal level.
Art is literally for everyone. I don't believe it's meant for a given few to enjoy whilst being thrust up on some pedestal and crowned with the title Artist with a capitol 'A'. Of course, not everyone needs to aspire to be a professional artist and make a living from their skills, but that doesn't mean they can't explore their artistic side and reap the many benefits of creating--mind, body and spirit. Any 5-year-old will demonstrate to you how fun and engaging it is to play with paint, or chalk, or glue or paper... When did we lose the ability to just embark on an artsy journey with our friends in community...just for the fun of it?
So I challenge you to engage in the culture in your community, wherever you may find it. Take an art class, see a live band, go the the theatre, attend a gallery opening... every community has so much richness to offer! Go ahead and take part without hesitation and without fear of not being 'good enough'. You'll be happy you did!