Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate about the Benefits of the Arts

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9780833036940: Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate about the Benefits of the Arts
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Faced with intense competition for audiences and financial support, as well as adverse political fallout from the “culture wars” of the early 1990s, arts advocates have increasingly sought to make a case for the arts in terms of their instrumental benefits to individuals and communities. In this report documenting the most comprehensive study of its kind, the authors evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these instrumental arguments and make the case that a new approach to understanding the benefits of the arts is needed. Critical of what they view as an overemphasis on instrumental benefits, the authors call for a greater recognition of the intrinsic benefits of the arts experience, provide a more comprehensive framework for assessing the private and public value of both intrinsic and instrumental benefits, and link the realization of those benefits to the nature of arts involvement. In particular, they underscore the importance of sustained involvement in the arts to the achievement of both instrumental and intrinsic benefits. This study has important policy implications for access to the arts, childhood exposure to the arts, arts advocacy, and future research on the arts.

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This study offers a new framework for understanding how the arts create private and public value, highlights the importance of the arts' intrinsic benefits, and identifies how both instrumental and intrinsic benefits are created.

About the Author:

Kevin F. McCarthy (Ph.D., Sociology, University of Wisconsin) is a senior social scientist at RAND who has led studies on the arts, immigration, and demographic issues.

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