Opera Philadelphia

Perspectives from Opera Philadelphia's General Director, David B. Devan

Art Is What Makes Us Human

By David B. Devan

In response to the recent White House budget proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, our General Director and President David B. Devan shares his reaction:

I was thinking about the importance of art in our lives this past weekend while watching NOVA on PBS​, in which anthropologists were explaining that art is the leading indicator of our move from homo sapiens to modern humans. Art and artistic expression is in our DNAliterally. When they find color pigments or etched drawings in dig sites, it is often in tandem with the discovery of larger brains in the nearby inhabitants, and this aligns with evidence of greater cognition that employs imagination, which leads to language and learning. In this way, art literally unlocked modern civilization and was the key to all the great innovations of humankind because it was part of cognitive development and language creation. Art played a pivotal role in who we are today.

To eliminate a national commitment to artistic endeavor is to deny who we arehow we got here and where we will go. The purging of the National Endowment for the Arts as proposed by the White House, is more than a small (almost insignificant) budget line item. It represents shutting the door on encouraging human expression, thereby shortchanging our potential to progress. This has business, as well as societal, implications. The great civilizations and economic markets that have been the cornerstones of human history have all had a vibrant and supported arts and culture life. Our ancestors understood the symbiotic relationship between artistic expression and progressbecause it has been so since the dawn of the modern age.

The NEA is more than a national funderit is evidence of a collective will to foster human kindto provide opportunities for artists to continue to inspire, challenge and move our minds as they have done for ages. To eliminate it seems short-sighted and out of scale to the many benefits artists provide all of us.

If you wish to take action, call your representatives today and tell them to #SavetheNEA.

Visit CallMyCongress.com to find your representatives' contact information, and remind them that art is what makes us human.

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