Imagine what it would be like in a world without the arts

Driving around town, you might see me driving an old green Toyota splattered with bumper stickers. Well chosen, they convey big ideas in few words.

I love all of my bumper stickers, such as: The kids are worth it, Teachers are my heroes, love each other, Humanity – Be Both. Probably the one that elicits the most reactions from viewers is The world without art is only “Hey!”

Recently, as I was walking to my car from Kroger, a woman was reading my bumper. She told me she agreed with all of them, but Le monde sans art really touched her.

“I can’t imagine,” she said, “a land without art, without the arts.”

We chatted for a while, imagining a world without the arts and thinking about the people and things that not have existed. My list included: Harry Belafonte, Frank Sinatra, The New York Philharmonic, Aminah Robinson, Winnie the Pooh, Toni Morrison, Peanuts, Folk Dance, Vincent van Gogh, Seinfeld, Columbus Museum of Art, “Hamilton,” Billy Collins, Otis Redding, Libraries, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Nat King Cole, Ohio Arts Council, Hans Christian Andersen, “Little Women,” Cultural Arts Center, OhioDance and Gordon Lightfoot. And that was just the disorganized, uncategorized start of a list that, if complete, could fill an entire magazine.

The items I checked off during this chance encounter were just the beginning of a long list of artistic experiences, events and artists that have imbued my life with joy, inspiration, courage and of appreciation.

I would love to see everyone start their own list and keep adding to it. Just imagine the world without the arts, which enrich our time on earth, touch our hearts, awaken our senses and inspire our imagination. Each listing would be completely unique and as original as its creator, as we are all original and unique individuals.

In this stressful time of COVID-19 as well as local, national and global pressures and challenges, we must all be vigilant and strong in supporting the arts in education, in our communities and in our country.

These days, it’s easier than ever for schools and other organizations to hit “delete” on a budget line item and cut arts programming and projects, curtail arts experiences for kids, and even close doors of galleries, museums or theatres. Speak. Speak out. Speak for the arts. We need the arts, and the arts need us!

Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld is a longtime Columbus arts educator and author who works with children of all ages and encourages them to be creative and lifelong learners.

This story is from the Winter 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.

About Bernice D. Brewer

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