Music improving lives
This week's songs by Tim Minchin and Missy Higgins show just how important artists are in shaping the society we live in - both songs addressed key social issues in a way that brought them to our attention arguably more quickly than ever before, and in a way that resonates deeply, and demands empathy and action. The ripples created by their work can have far greater impact than any change in public policy, and can build very quickly into broader social change.
There have always been protest songs, but with technology today the artist is able to reach us almost instantaneously (Tim Minchin's song was written and recorded in a day, spreading wide and 'climbing the charts' within a few days).
I believe that this ability of artists to connect us directly to important issues is a key part of the increasing importance of arts in our society, now and in future - crucially, as Wesley Enoch (director of Black Diggers and Queensland Theatre Company artistic director) said in Perth last year (I'll paraphrase..), it is artists who can effectively present a radical new idea or suggestion in a way that will connect widely and allow it to be explored and developed in a creative manner - looking at it's possibilities and opportunities, beyond the rational and logical.
I'm not an artist (but I hope if possible to one day play a role in shaping public policy in a representative capacity of some kind) however I believe arts (and a wider understanding of the role of creativity) is essential to a strong and robust future society that is capable of identifying and responding to social concerns.
We risk simplifying the role of arts and culture at our peril - whilst they do offer direct personal and societal benefits in terms of well being or mental health, for example, there are more far reaching benefits that I believe we cannot ignore.
Strong support for the arts, and development of our creative capacity, is key.