01/11/2017 12:51 EST | Updated 01/11/2017 12:51 EST

We Are All Artistic Beings Who Need The Arts

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Illustration and Painting

It's interesting to read of developments in the field of genetics where scientists are looking for DNA markers of artistic or creative genius. There has been work done by scientists at the University of Helsinki which point to genetic markers that may have identified Beethoven's musical genius long before he wrote the Moonlight Sonata. Regardless of whether science ever locates a definitive 'creative gene' or not, there's little doubt that we are all, at some level, artistic beings. Whether it's the rhythmic beat of our hearts or the pitch of our central nervous system, the evidence of that is in our physiological make up.

One might even point to evolutionary advantages that allowed our cave drawing ancestors to develop technological innovations over the millennia thanks to creative and artistic impulses that were not available to other species. The point is that art is not something reserved for someone else or apart from us -- it's a living, breathing part of every person on this planet. For that reason, it needs to be nurtured.

That's why it's so important to encourage both the creation and the consumption of artistic content in Canada.

Isn't it time for a program that encourages Canadians to participate in artistic and cultural events?

Canada needs a national arts education strategy and a public arts program that encourages all Canadians to tap into those creative instincts. In a world where technological innovations help drive the knowledge economy, it makes sense that arts education should be emphasized once again in our schools.

As economies evolve, we need creativity and innovation. The Chinese are now in the midst of a national arts education program because they understand the link between the arts and the creative spirit that helps drive innovations of products and services.

If the arts are fundamental to our humanity and our economies, why is arts education not being encouraged? I credit my musical education in the school system for playing a critical role in my career decisions. To think that young people today might not have the same advantages or that they are deprived of the benefits I had, saddens me.

As far as a public program of arts promotion goes, I would liken it to what the Participation

program has done to encourage physical activity. It started in 1971 and was intended to "help Canadians sit less and move more." Isn't it time for a program that encourages Canadians to participate in artistic and cultural events? It would make us a better country and better global citizens.

There are many studies that have been done over the years suggesting that young people do better when they are involved in the creative arts process. Eliminating such programs from our school system is doing them a disservice and hurting their prospects for bringing greater innovation to whatever career path they take.

In an increasingly global economic environment, we become more competitive when our thinking process becomes more creative through involvement with the arts. The arts isn't just for artists. If we can agree that art is an integral part of the human condition, then developing that part of who we are helps us evolve as people. It helps us interact with each other. It helps us understand who and what we are. Surely those things are important enough to develop in our schools and in society in general.

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