Art has a way of speaking to an individual, unlike any other inanimate object. Art can evoke joy, sadness, regret – nearly any emotion humankind is able to experience, simply just by gazing at the piece for a few moments. Yet, most funders do not wish to partake in this area. Art and culture seem to be a difficult category for funders to support, possibly due to the fact that it is a creative endeavor that allows others to experience innovative ideas in an immeasurable way, rather than simply being a cause to support and assist in achieving social change. Philanthropists should revisit the notion of supporting the arts and culture, as they have more of an impact on society than one may think.

Culture Has No Real Funding

Funds are limited for art organizations all over the world. Whether the art is for social change, or just for the sake of art, many have very limited access to resources, nor are there established organizations or structures to support them. There are some government and development agencies that are in support of the arts, however, they are more often than not geared towards the economic interests of art. Per South African playwright Mike Van Graan, “Freedom of creative expression is often made subject to political and economic interests.”

Allows for Discussion of Sensitive Issues

Funders would rather distance themselves from any sensitive, political, or controversial issues within conservative societies. Art and culture, however, could be an agent of change where other forms of expression may be repressed. Art can be an outlet of expression for sensitive issues and urge discussion in conservative societies, allowing for the exchange of ideas that would otherwise have not been possible. Art can have a tremendous impact on an individual and spark the initiative needed to create real change and progress within society.

Understanding the World

Art is an outlet for cultures to truly depict their lives and circumstances, as well as allowing them to understand their circumstances and explore the solutions needed to create change. Art is able to conceptualize the past and present, all the while allowing for the re-shaping of our future. This practice of expression enables us to truly think and speak for ourselves and connects us to others with shared experiences. The internal struggle someone is experiencing may find solace in the connection created through art, resulting in the need to question, resist and rebuild the previous notion of society through a shared experience.

Art is Not Just a Social End

The relationship between art and social change is much more complicated than one may think. While art is a display of creation, allowing us to think on a deeper, more critical level than average, it can also be a political stance within the world. Not only does art convey the beauty of self and culture, it allows individuals to connect with their community and engage in the cultural life. Philanthropy means “love of humanity” and art evokes humanity in a way that most other organizations and practices do not. Since philanthropists love humanity, they should support the arts and artistic organizations to truly combat social issues and achieve change like we’ve never seen before.