The Great Thing About Art? It Isn’t Just About You

Culture Frees Our Empathic Imagination by Letting Us Step Outside Our Selves

This essay was originally published by The Chronicle of Higher Education on September 15, 2014.

A decade ago, arts leaders faced a crisis in America. National data indicated significant declines in attendance at venues for virtually every art form—classical music, dance, theater, opera, jazz, museums. Bill Ivey, a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and I offered a counternarrative in 2006: We saw a renaissance in creativity and cultural engagement, made possible, in part, by new technology. Guitar sales had tripled in the course of the decade; 25 percent of …