This week Erin Renard, director of the Theater Department at Barton Community College, spoke to the Great Bend Kiwanis Club about the impact the arts have on a community.
Citing various studies, she explained how everyone benefits from the arts, whether through direct involvement or as a patron or audience member. The list was long but not surprising. The arts bring us together, giving us a sense of identity and improving the status of the community. They make us happier, better rounded people and more tolerant of others. They give us “something to do.”
Currently, Kansas educators are placing emphasis on workforce training. This is true at the college level and also in K-12 schools, where we hear about the “soft skills” that employers can young people to have when they graduate. Businesses want young employees to be articulate, courteous, responsible and punctual. It so happens that they can learn all of these things by being part of a theatrical production, a band or a choir. That includes those who work behind the scenes, building sets or handling the lights and sound.
They may even find a career in the arts. But if they don’t, they will continue to reap the benefits.