The arts have always been a source of happiness for me; that’s probably why I wandered into a career as a performer. I love to sketch or paint when I’m stressed out. I try to take a dance class on the weekends whenever I have time. My favorite way to destress after a long day is to go to a concert. In that way, the arts contribute greatly to my overall happiness. I’m calmer, more relaxed. More resilient.
Under these stressful times, I wanted to share ideas from my colleagues in the arts about why the arts make them happy, and how the arts affect their overall happiness. So perhaps the next time you’re feeling blue, your fix might be to immerse yourself in a creative environment?
“The Arts and Creativity is essential to my happiness. It is how I express myself and my experiences. It is how I share many meaningful moments with my daughter; singing and harmonizing together, accompanying her on the piano, storytelling together, and so much more.”
Chief Creative Economy Officer
Government of the District of Columbia
“Music is beyond happy or unhappy. Music returns me to myself, especially when the noise, debris, and electricity of the world becomes too loud.”
Singer, Songwriter, and IVY member, SF chapter
“As a very curious person, I love experiencing all types of art and culture because it makes me think about the world around me in ways that i wouldn’t otherwise and that makes me feel happy.”
Arielle Tepper Madover
Founder and CEO of WhatShouldWeDo.com, Board Chair of The Public Theater, and a Tony® Award winning Theater & Film Producer
“Today, what makes me happy about the arts is that 81% of Americans say the ‘arts are a positive experience for a troubled world,’ and 72% believe the ‘arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, or ethnicity.’ Who can’t feel happy about those numbers?”
Vice President of Research and Policy
Americans for the Arts
“For me, art is like food or sex, it unlocks deep sensorial dimensions and expands perspective on things”
Founder, EcoArt Project and IVY member, NY chapter
“The arts make one happy because the arts enter our lives with majestic energy to coax our hearts to blossom and tango!”
Artistic Adviser & Program Consultant
The Metropolitan Opera Guild
“Money can never be the objective. The highest good of money is to enable you to create something that matters to you more, that makes you happy, not just more money. Art matters to me.”
IVY member, New York chapter
“Recently, there has been a large focus on happiness. But what is happiness, really? I believe that, sometimes, happiness is derived from disappointment. People have an array of emotions which we are often told are not okay to acknowledge, but how do we get to happiness if we aren’t shown the path or given the tools?
I find art to be synonymous with self expression. When a person is allowed to express themselves, free of judgement, then individuality is celebrated. When people express themselves through art, frustrations and aggravations are released, this can leave a sense of relief and achievement, which can lead to happiness.
I am lucky enough to have found and be accepted by the art form of dance. As a professional dancer I am often given steps (choreography), and told how to portray them. This can be a bit stifling at times, as there may be a part of myself that I am not allowed to express. But my sense of achievement and happiness comes from the discipline of the rehearsal process and joy of performing that work for an audience. Outside of work, social dancing, having the freedom to move my body and allowing myself make mistakes gives me happiness. But, what is great about art is that is it open to everyone, and there is no singular way to express one’s self. Because of this cooking, sewing, teaching and writing are other outlets which help guide me to happiness.
For me, art is the one word umbrella for the many avenues towards happiness, and I believe that there is enough space under the umbrella for everyone.”
Akua Noni Parker
Dancer, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and IVY member, NYC chapter
“Art – whether it’s music, dance, bebop, rap, etc. – it is all the tangible manifestation of the Most High Spirit on Earth. Whether you call it Jah, Yahweh, Allah, or Christ, it is the central spirit that permeates in all humankind and art is the path to the Most High Spirit. It takes love of the Most High to create Art. Art is the closest thing to human creation on this earth – the closest thing I can imagine is childbirth.
Art saved me from myself in so many ways. As a child, growing up in Jamaica in a society that has toxic masculinity and toxic conservatism with neocolonial tendencies, it was paramount to find something that a young person can excel at. For some, it was sports. For me, it was art. I started acting at the age of three, and specialized in Jamaican theatrics at the Jamaican Cultural Development Commission. I also played various African percussion and dabbled in piano, musical theater, dance, and other dramatic arts. When I moved to the U.S. with my mother, I could have easily fallen into the things that a young black person in America will face, an easy way out to do something just because. Art saved me from that – it saved me from the nothingness of being a middle school and high school student, and even an adult with no purpose. I met people who taught me music and, at the Dillard Center for the Performing Arts, I met Wynton Marsalis and other jazz masters as part of the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition – in addition to helping me perform and learn, I saw black excellence. It was then that I decided all I wanted to do was play bass and that was how I will bring happiness to the world, through the actualization of jazz and music. This was and is the most important thing in my life.”
Grammy and Emmy nominated bassist, singer, composer
(Russell will be making his headlining debut in The Appel Room later this month as part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s annual Monk Festival.)