How Do the Arts Promote Social Change?

How Do the Arts Promote Social Change?

The arts are “a space where we can give dignity to others while interrogating our own circumstances,” Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said at the museum’s annual symposium, The Power of Giving: Philanthropys Impact on American Life. Held on March 22, 2018, the program explored philanthropy’s impact on and through culture and the arts. As he reflected on the relationship between giving and the arts, Walker said that “throughout our history, we have seen artists and activists work hand in hand. We have seen art inspire and elevate whole movements for change.”

“The Grave of Bonaparte” sheet music, song and music by L. Heath, as performed by the Hutchinson Family Singers, Boston, 1843. “The Grave of Bonaparte,” recalling the French leader who vanquished much of Europe before being defeated, reflected the Hutchinson Family Singers’ concern for the cause of freedom abroad as well as at home. (NMAH)

The arts are “a space where we can give dignity to others while interrogating our own circumstances,” Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said at the museum’s annual symposium, The Power of Giving: Philanthropys Impact on American Life. Held on March 22, 2018, the program explored philanthropy’s impact on and through culture and the arts. As he reflected on the relationship between giving and the arts, Walker said that “throughout our history, we have seen artists and activists work hand in hand. We have seen art inspire and elevate whole movements for change.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/5hHprpnP6dU

As Walker suggests, music, storytelling, drama, and other arts have an emotional impact that motivates giving time and money to causes, while philanthropic appeals help artists attract audiences. To continue the conversation about the arts and giving, here’s a look at three objects that tell stories about how Americans used the arts to promote social change in the 1800s.

BY Amanda B. Moniz, smithsonianmag.com

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