We know that the arts can provide leisure activities and entertainment for many. It is easy to assume that the arts play a part in our lives only as a hobby or a night out when actually the arts are intrinsic to our way of life, our education, health and wellbeing. It is through pictures and storytelling that we first learn about history, our culture and what defines us as a nation.
"The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed...because people are changed by art - enriched, ennobled, encouraged - they then act in a way that may affect the course of events...by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think." – Leonard Bernstein
In 2015, the annual cost of public investment in the arts on the Isle of Man was £6 per person.
During 2015 the Isle of Man Arts Council commissioned an evaluation of their Island of Culture 2014 initiative. The results showed that the residents surveyed were highly engaged in the arts with 96% attending at least one event in 2014. (Higher than the most recent Arts Council England survey result of 69%.) 77% said that they would feel a great loss if forced to give up Island arts and culture events.
It was calculated that, on average, over a year attending cultural events triggers expenditure of £110 per person in addition to admission charges. This means that every time someone goes to the theatre, cinema or a concert the money they spend on food, drink and transport benefits our economy. In fact, based on 58,460 adults aged 20-75 (Census 2011) gross additional spend (not including ticket charges) equates to £6.4 million per year.
Creative activities are increasingly being used in healthcare settings to boost recovery, emotional health and wellbeing. The arts can help people find a voice, whether public or private and help express emotion or convey a message. The process of creating something is enormously valuable, providing a focus away from illness or stress. It helps us make friends, become part of a team or our community. For some people self-esteem is boosted to the point where they feel able to perform in public or exhibit work they have created.
People can participate in the arts at any age and any time in life; this includes listening to music, reading a book, drawing a picture or taking a photograph.
Using the arts in education is not just for those who we class as artistically gifted. Students who take part in music and drama show improved attainment in maths, English and reading. Self-confidence and motivation are increased and self-discipline and concentration are enhanced. Arts in school can provide a vital source of learning for those who struggle with mainstream education or suffer from conditions such as dyslexia. Taking part in the arts can provide children with a sense of pride and achievement, improving communication skills and employability.
The arts enrich our environment and our lives. On the Isle of Man we can find live music, public art, poetry open mic sessions, dance classes, high quality amateur theatre, traditional music and dance, eight brass bands, a symphony orchestra, a youth orchestra, choirs, festivals and galleries. Without the arts and creative industries we would not have:
An e-gaming industry
The Gaiety Theatre
The Bee Gees
The IOM Film Festival
Manx music group Barrule
The arts are not an optional extra; they are part of our society, our lives and our culture.
I reached the age of 50, life was boring as can be
So I started at the hub and now I'm writing poetry
I had become invisible and thought that no one cares
But now I have become alive and turned into Pam Ayres
You may wonder what is special with the hub and my old age
Well not only am I writing it, I'm now performing on a stage
It's all down to the arts council for funding this great scheme
I could never have imagined I'd be having such a scream
So a huge thank you to Janet and everyone involved
I never thought that I would end up being quite so bold
By Di Benson, Member of The Creativity Hub at Thie Rosien, Funded by the IOM Arts Council.