February 11, 2014

Do the Arts Make Us Better People? A Special Talk at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Written by  Zocalo Public Square
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Do the Arts Make Us Better People? A Special Talk at Segerstrom Center for the Arts Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Moderated by Jori Finkel, Contributing Arts Writer, The New York Times

No one asks engineers or physicians to explain the purpose of their profession, but people who work in fine arts and literature, music and theater can expect to defend a career choice that was, at the very least, financially unwise. But maybe the value of the arts isn’t something that can, or should, be quantified.

While some research suggests that reading fiction makes us more empathetic and that listening to music can make us happier, it’s difficult to measure the inspiration that can come from a streak of light across a canvas, the way a story set in a foreign land can shift a worldview, and why getting fully immersed in a performance is so uplifting. How do the arts change our lives and our behavior in ways we don’t expect and often can’t put into words? Can experiencing a sublime work of art or the majesty of an opera not just bring us pleasure but make us more humane people?

New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean, Getty Trust President and CEO James Cuno, and Segerstrom Center for the Arts President Terrence W. Dwyer visit Zócalo to discuss the role the arts play in shaping our selves.

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