04/23/2012 08:11 EDT | Updated 06/23/2012 05:12 EDT

5 Benefits of Arts and Culture


If you can count on one hand the number of times you've gone to a museum in your city, a theatre performance and a concert, you're missing out on the enriching world of culture that is there to be enjoyed. Why should you turn off the TV for once and get out there to take in some culture? The benefits are not as tangible as, say, how exercising will help you drop 10 pounds, but the rewards are undeniable.

Culture Connects You To Humanity And The community You Live In

By taking in culture (in any form, whether it be music, art or writing, to name just a few mediums) that focuses on the elements we contend with - poverty, sexuality, racism, etc. - we gain a better understanding of humanity as a whole and of the groups we live amongst. And because of this, culture can help break down boundaries. Think about it: learning about the struggles of a group that's often been pushed to the outer fringes of society will broaden your awareness and grow your tolerance and compassion.

Culture Improves The Community You Live In

People who engage in the arts are the ones who help communities thrive, says a 2006 study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts in the U.S. It seems that folks with an interest in the arts are more likely to volunteer and attend sporting activities, and that it's a reflection of being a civic- and socially-minded citizen.

Culture Can Help Feed And Develop Your Perspective

It's very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life we have to contend with. By exposing ourselves to culture, we remove ourselves from this same old, same old routine and get out of our comfort zones, altering our perspective. Reading a straightforward account of a moment in history will expand your knowledge of the cold, hard facts but often taking it a cultural interpretation of it may make you more open and receptive to receiving the information, and it may allow you to better understand the depth and emotions that are part of it. The message can become more real and more tangible when presented in a different form.

Culture Helps You Express Yourself

By participating in culture and being exposed to different forms of art, you broaden the ways in which you can express yourself. It frees and opens up your way of thinking so even if you're not actively creating art, your ability to convey information and communicate with others is enriched.

Culture Reduces Stress Levels

Regardless of your income level or education, taking in the arts is linked to being more satisfied with your life, says a study published last year in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. However, the study revealed differences when it came to men and women. Men experience greater boosts in mood and health when partaking in culture passively, for example going to a museum or a

concert. Women, on the other hand, experienced a rise in mood when participating in culture in a more active way (by creating art or playing a musical instrument).