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The arts exist for the sole purpose of keeping us entertained. Do you agree?

The arts are collectively defined as the creative and non-scientific branches of knowledge that are studied academically. This emcompasses a plethora of subjects, including visual, literary and performing arts. While the arts are undoubtedly valid topics of academic interest, they have often been cast aside and neglected by many governments in favour of more scientic branches of knowledge, including physics, chemistry and biology. An epitome would be the situation in Singapore during its developing years. There was a stark contrast between government spending on primary and secondary schools and spending on their artistic counterparts, such as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. This discrepency boils down to a deeply ingrained perception of the arts in such utilitarian societies. The perception is this. Arts are merely tools of entertainment and leisure, while the sciences are the engines of a countries development and prosperity. However, I do not agree with this generalisation, for the arts have demonstrated multiple functions in society, including but not limited to the purpose of entertainment. It is difficult to dispute that generally, the arts have an innate ability to entertain people. By nature, they are forms of human expression and communication. Thus they often arouse emotions within their audience and keeps them entertained. For instance, Victor Hugos 1862 novel, Les Miserables, inspired a hit musical in 1980 that, by 2010, had been played ten thousand times, showing how the entertainment value of the musical has withstood the test of time. This is only one of many famous musicals playing at Broadway theatre, which yearly revenue is approximately $1 billion. This is testament to the function of the arts as effective means of entertainment because of its lasting demand. It

is clear that the arts are prime entertainment devices. However, I strongly believe that art is not constrained to mere entertainment. Firstly, the arts are the medium through which a countries culture and beliefs are spread. The arts have a primary function in preserving the cultural identity of a society. Just as each individual human has his or her own quirks and differences, individual societies each have their own idiosyncrasies that distinguishes them from others. This distinguishing factor gives rise to national pride and establishes a sense of belonging and uniqueness in the global sea of humans. For instance, the archaic form of English used in Shakespearean literature has long evolved into modern English as we know today. However, such Old English are part and parcel of English history, and it has been passed down across generations to the modern generation through Shakespeares evergreen literature, such as Romeo and Juliet. Without it, a crucial part of English history would likely have died out. This illustrates the arts crucial role in ensuring the preservation of a countries culture. Secondly, the arts allow for creative expression. All forms of art, whether through dance, song, poetry or instrumental music, constitute an outlet for people to release their creative juices. After all, art is the embodiment of ones unique thoughts in physical form. Thus, a function of the arts is to promote creativity. Creativity is vital to problem solving and creating innovative technologies and novel ideas, for such innovation often requires thinking out of the box. There is thus another purpose of studying the arts, because they mould creative thinkers whose revolutionary ideas can contribute to the betterment of humanity. For example, Leonardo da Vinci, the man famous for his painting of the Mono Lisa, was also a reknowned scientist who created the idea of the helicopter, calculator and

solar power ahead of his time. Although such ideas may seem mediocre in our modern age, where we have developed technology more exotic that those, in Da Vincis time, such ideas were radical and unheard of. However, the most valuable part of any technology is its conceptual idea. The ability to think of such ideas require creative qualities, which can be inculcated via the arts. Thus, a purpose of the arts is to cultivate creative men akin to Leonardo Da Vinci, with the aim of the betterment of humanity. Lastly, the arts have a purpose in providing an alternative to materialism for societies pursuing happiness and fufillment. There are prominent global trends, especially within developed countries such as Singapore and the United States, which show that there is rising materialism. This means that such societies turn towards the consumption of material goods for happiness. Paradoxically, studies have shown that this has instead lead to increases in dissatisfaction. What the arts does is diminish the need for societies to rely on material goods for happiness. Through the arts, such as singing and dancing, the psychological well-being of people generally increase, according to a Manchester Metropolitican University research. It showed that people, on average, felt happier, empowered and more confident after participating in art activities. Evidently, the arts have been more effective in achieving the dual objectives of happiness and fufillment than the consumption of material goods. This illustrates a purpose of the arts, which is to promote an emotionally satisfied society. In conclusion, this essay has illustrated the many functions of the arts, though it is by no means comprehensive. They are a means of entertainment, preservers of culture, a means of creative expression, a promotor of creativity and an improver of levels of happiness. It is obvious that the arts are indeed entertainment devices, but have a greater

goal in the bigger picture. It is thus highlighted that the purpose of the arts are never solely only to keep us entertained.