Art is a Collective Activity
We often think of art as an individual act and the artist as a solitary figure working alone, but in fact art is a collective activity that requires the cooperation of a number of people and a wide range of activities.
There is a whole world of individuals – an Art World – who contribute to the creation of art. This Art World, explored in dept by sociologist Howard Becker in his classic book “Art Worlds”, is made up of not only artists but also material suppliers, distributors, critics, patrons, and audience members, all of whom make is possible for artists to create and share art.
- Art & Materials – When talking about art we very rarely think about the art materials – paint, clay, instruments, costumes – all of which are necessary to the creation of art. Artists also need manufactures, distributors, retailers and others in the business community to supply materials. All these people and activities are needed for artist to work.
- Art & the Audience – Art calls for an audience. This includes those who go to a weekend movie as well as patrons who hold season tickets to the opera. There is a dynamic and reciprocal relationship with the artist and audience, each giving and taking from the other.
“The artist thus works in the center of a network of cooperating people, all of whose work is essential to the final outcome. Wherever he depends on others, a cooperative link exists” ~ Howard Becker
So, why is this important?
Art is Important to Community
Looking at art as a collective activity, and not simply the act of a sole individual, is important because is helps us better understand what art and artists contribute to the community.
This understanding can then help to make the case for funding arts programs, for using art in community-building activities and it provides us with a holistic view of arts place in our world.
- Economics & Art – The art help to create jobs and influence production. Art does not begin and end with the artist; instead creating art requires the action of other individuals and businesses.
- Community & Art –Art helps to create social connections and relationships in the community. People attending art events – which may range from a movie, live music or a gallery show – and socialize with others. Art creates a reason and forum for people to gather and have a shared experience.
When you think about the Art World, all of the people and activities that support art and artist, you can better understand how important art is. Art impacts the community in many ways. We just touched on the economic impact and the social impact here.
Understanding the importance of the arts is essential if we wish to take a holistic approach to community development.