In a new op-ed for CNN, Julie Andrews and her daughter, fellow actress Emma Walton Hamilton, espouse the benefits that the arts bring to individuals and society. They also call on the public to do everything possible to preserve funding for the arts and demand the same of elected representatives.
They open by asking, “What if there was one activity that could guarantee your kids would do better in school and cope well with life’s challenges? And what if this same activity helped them grow up to be lifelong learners, have more success in their chosen career, earn a higher salary and have more fulfilling relationships? What if it even made them more likely to volunteer, be philanthropic, vote — and ultimately, live longer, healthier, happier lives?”
Their answer, of course, is the arts. Andrews and Hamilton go on to extol the virtues of theater, writing, fine art, and all other sorts of creative outlets. They note that participating in the arts can improve graduation rates, raise grades, and encourage greatness in other walks of life.
“The arts are fundamental to our common humanity,” they write. “Every time we attend the theater, a museum or a concert, we are literally feeding our souls, and investing in and preserving our collective future.”
Other leaders support Andrews and Hamilton’s claims. Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, said, “This arts and culture industry supports 4.8 million jobs and yields a $26 billion trade surplus for our country. President Trump does not yet realize the vast contribution the NEA makes to our nation’s economy and communities, as well as to his own agenda to create jobs ‘made and hired’ in America.”
The mother-daughter commentary comes the same that President Donald Trump revealed his budget proposal, proposing massive cuts towards several programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts, that have proven themselves to be incredibly successful and create enormous cultural opportunities for the public.
“We feel it has never been more critical to advocate for and support the arts — not just in our schools, but in our communities and our lives,” they conclude. “We therefore respectfully request that every member of our society — individuals, educators, administrators, business leaders — do everything possible to preserve and advance this most precious and essential resource, and demand that our elected representatives do the same.”