Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate about the Benefits of the Arts

Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate about the Benefits of the Arts

Kevin F. McCarthy
Elizabeth H. Ondaatje
Laura Zakaras
Arthur Brooks
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 125
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  • Book Info
    Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate about the Benefits of the Arts
    Book Description:

    During the past decade, arts advocates have relied on an instrumental approach to the benefits of the arts in arguing for support of the arts. This report evaluates these arguments and asserts that a new approach is needed. This new approach offers a more comprehensive view of how the arts create private and public value, underscores the importance of the artsÂ' intrinsic benefits, and links the creation of benefits to arts involvement.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4062-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Arguments for why the arts should be supported have undergone a dramatic shift since the mid-1960s, when the U. S. government first started funding the arts systematically. In the early years of public funding, from the late 1960s through the 1970s (a period in which nonprofit organizations of all shapes and sizes spread rapidly from the main urban centers into communities across the country), the American public hardly questioned the benefits of the arts. Public funding was intended to create a cultural sector befitting a nation of America’s economic and political power. There were, of course, charged political debates about...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Instrumental Benefits: What Research Tells Us—And What It Does Not
    (pp. 7-20)

    Supporters of the instrumental argument for the arts base their case on findings from the growing body of empirical evidence on the benefits of the arts. These studies initially focused on the economic benefits of the arts, but they now cover a much wider range of instrumental benefits, including cognitive, attitudinal and behavioral, and health benefits at the individual level, and social and economic benefits at the community level. As a first step in making our argument for a different approach to the benefits of the arts, we review here the evidence used to support the instrumental argument.

    Despite some...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Instrumental Benefits: Getting More Specific
    (pp. 21-36)

    As underscored in the last chapter, research on the instrumental benefits of the arts fails to specify the mechanisms by which arts participation creates specific benefits. It also fails to specify the circumstances in which benefits accrue, the populations most likely to benefit in such circumstances, and the level of arts involvement needed to generate benefits. To address these issues, we reviewed literature from a range of disciplines to learn what is known about how individuals and communities change and to explore the relevance of this knowledge to arts participation and its claimed effects. Readers interested in a detailed summary...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Intrinsic Benefits: The Missing Link
    (pp. 37-52)

    Our discussion so far has focused exclusively on the instrumental benefits of involvement in the arts, but these are neither the only nor the most important benefits that the arts offer. What draws people to the arts is not the hope that the experience will make them smarter or more self-disciplined. Instead, it is the expectation that encountering a work of art can be a rewarding experience, one that offers them pleasure and emotional stimulation and meaning. To discuss these intrinsic effects, we need to abandon the more objective view of the social scientist and focus on the personal, subjective...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The Process of Arts Participation: How It Relates to Benefits
    (pp. 53-66)

    We previously indicated that a wide range of benefits can be created through involvement in the arts, but that many of them, particularly those most often cited by arts advocates, can only be created through a process of sustained involvement in the arts. One of our objectives was to identify the dynamics behind sustained involvement.

    In pursuing this objective, we examined three issues: How do people initially become involved with the arts? How does the nature of the experience change with greater involvement (changes in taste, greater competence, more engagement)? Why might levels of involvement change over time? Building upon...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions and Implications
    (pp. 67-74)

    The arts in America expanded dramatically from the 1960s through the 1980s, but they have faced difficult times since then. They have had to navigate a new landscape, one in which demand for the arts has shifted in response to leisure time becoming more fragmented, the population growing more diverse, and competition from a burgeoning leisure industry intensifying. They have also had to deal with many changes—in distribution patterns stemming from emerging technologies; in an organizational ecology that is blurring the distinctions among the commercial, nonprofit, and volunteer sectors; in public and private funding patterns; and, most recently, a...

  13. APPENDIX Review of the Theoretical Research
    (pp. 75-92)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 93-104)