Art isn’t Just Crafts, it’s Civic Engagement

arts club

The 4-H members in the Open Up to Performing Art club attended a dance performance by BodyVox. Following the show, the discussed plot points from Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the emotions they felt as the music and dance styles changed.

Picture a group of youth involved in an art program. Did you picture a colorful room, with paint and clay, and young people smiling and expressing themselves freely? Or, did you see youth watching a play, taking notes, and having deep discussions afterwards about societal expectations, emotional expression, and racial equity in society? In 4-H, art programs can be both of these things. 

The 4-H Open Up to Performing Art program introduces youth to the experience of attending concerts and shows. Last fall, 31 youth participated in the program, attending one or more performances of theater, dance, opera, and music. Participants learn to capture their ideas using the terms Notice, Feel, Remind, and Wonder. They track their observations in a journal, and engage in discussion after the show. Youth who participate learn to connect their own feelings and experiences with the performance they are seeing. 

You don’t have to be an artist to benefit from art. Research shows that people who attend art and culture events are healthier than those who only go to movies or sporting events. Art fosters dialog, opening us to others’ perspectives in a unique way. The Open Up To Performing Art participants now understand that art is a form of communication, and it can change the way we view the world.