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Question of the Day: Does a Lack of Exposure to the Arts Lead to Disaster?

(Photo: Eric Parker)

A reader named Matt Radcliffe writes:

I’ve been working on a project concerning musical theater performance. I have a hypothesis which seems intuitive enough to me — that a lack of exposure to creative arts can lead to disastrous results for individuals (lack of education, poverty, etc).

I can find a plethora of research that proves the opposite (exposure to creative arts can lead to success), but I can’t find anything towards my hypothesis.

While I wish I knew where even to start to conduct the experiment myself. I am not an economist or mathematician (theater, remember?).

I was wondering if you could post this as a question to your readers on the blog.

What do you have to say to Matt? I am just as interested in the first part of his query — that a “plethora of research proves” that exposure to creative arts can lead to success. I haven’t ready too widely on that topic but I have to say that what I have read isn’t all that convincing. It seems to me a classic area in which correlation is mistaken for cause — i.e., highly productive societies have a lot of creative arts; ergo (some may claim), the arts are a contributor to that high productivity (as opposed to, say, a side benefit that’s generated because of that high productivity).