YOU have probably heard the argument before that arts and culture are important because they help preserve our heritage and offer a medium for artistic self-expression, that for some it provides an escape from crime, and so on so forth. That’s true, but I see it more as a mixture of our history and our identity in today’s world. I mean, art in its most simple terms involves communication. It is a means to express ideas and share information. Think about the pattern on the carpet in your house or the adverts on television, or the leather jacket you’ve not worn in five years because it is for “a special occasion” – someone designed that. Participating in culture can benefit individuals in many different ways, some of which are deeply personal. They are a source of delight and wonder, and can provide emotionally and intellectually moving experiences, whether pleasurable or unsettling, that encourage celebration or contemplation. Arts and culture are also a means of expressing creativity, forging an individual identity, and enhancing or preserving a community’s sense of place and send of self. Culture also helps build social capital, which is the glue that holds communities together. By bringing people together cultural activities such as festivals, shows, events or even art workshops create social solidarity and cohesion that ultimately fosters social inclusion and community empowerment. Now not many people will agree with me, but the way I see it, art only affects the people that see it and understand it, and to understand art you need an education. This does not necessarily mean formal education, but rather a clear understanding of what the art is or what it represents. The problem is that the people that understand art are the ones that are usually better off than the ones that need some change in society, who feel the weight of “the system”. So, I don’t see art as an agent of change, I see art as a companion of change, as a way for people to express their moment as it happens and to share it with the community. Art is a means of personal expression. It is essentially about what happens around the artist and what affects them personally, which often can affect or change the thinking of the wider society. All in all, arts and culture are not a ‘nice to haves’. Artists are an essential part of our individual, communal and national identity. For too long artists in Namibia have been treated differently when it comes to sustainable growth, career paths and economic benefits. That has to change.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015