What comes to your mind when you read the words “art major”? Unemployed? A waste of time and money?
Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky, sparked controversy among educators while speaking at the 2017 Governor’s Conference on Postsecondary Education. At this conference, Bevin spoke out against public university arts degrees.
Bevin said during the conference, “If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set.”
This blanket statement of all arts degrees misses the point of higher artistic education.
Yes, there are unemployed artists, but there are also employed artists. They’re everywhere and they’re utilized in our everyday lives, yet we rarely mention them.
What about the movie you watched last night? The bracelet you bought from Etsy? The art that hangs on your walls? The song that you can’t get out of your head? The creative advertising that convinced you to buy the eco-friendly laundry detergent? Artists are everywhere. We just don’t acknowledge them.
Without the students majoring in these art fields, the rest of us would not have the luxury of entertainment through the arts. It’s in the books we read, and in the TV shows that we watch. It’s in our furniture: our bed sheets, our couch, our bed. It’s in our car’s interior, with the accents that are just right, and the way comfortable seats.
We notice all of these things, right? What do they all have in common? Art.
A study from Pacific Standard states that around 65 percent of recent graduates report they were able to find work in arts-related fields.
So it appears art majors really aren’t as unemployed as we think.
Not all artists are going to be in museums for their paintings, and not all dancers will be famous for their dancing, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t jobs available. Everything that surrounds us – outside of what is natural – has something to do with art.
A study from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project insists, “Art graduates are among the happiest professionals in the U.S.”
The study also suggests that universities are getting better at training arts graduates in the more practical aspects of pursuing their craft.
The problem with the conventional way people choose a career is that we choose them based on status and end goals. Somewhere along the way, the purpose of college morphed from a place to learn and explore, to “How much money is this job going to make me?”
So who decided the validity of our passion should be validated by how academically demanding it is?
The bottom line is: we go to college because we have the desire to learn something new about things we are interested in. Why would we spend thousands of dollars each year to learn about a topic that is meaningless to us?
Art degrees should be encouraged just as much as STEM fields are, as there are opportunities in both.