Why is art important? The question probably depends a lot on who you ask.
In a large metro area one can find art in a multitude of places. While there are the usual art galleries and museums, art can be found in public spaces. Murals on buildings. Graffiti art on the walls of tunnels. Sculpture. Painted crosswalks. Playground equipment. Performance events at the park that feature music, theater or puppetry.
We see a lot of research that supports the concept that when students are involved in and exposed to arts in their education, they have improved academic performance and lower drop out rates. There is also evidence of how the arts helps with developing motor skills, visual learning and teaching children to think. With cognitive development, there is evidence of how the arts benefits thinking, problem solving, information processing and overall intelligence.
There is strong evidence of the value of the arts in healing, not only to veterans suffering with PTSD or TBI, but also to seniors suffering with dementia. Various forms of art, visual arts like painting or drawing, music and writing, benefit veterans, especially those who have recently left combat. In healthcare the arts can benefit patients physically, mentally and emotionally.
From a broader perspective, the arts can help enhance the quality of life for communities and make them more desirable places to live. Businesses often look at a community to see how they are invested in the arts. The thought is if their employees are going to be living and working there, the arts should be integrated into everyday life in that community. The arts are also important as an economic driver. This is seen when an art installation or event brings visitors to a community - the result is local businesses benefit.
The arts are important to a community. The challenge is to bring together government, artists and citizens to develop a viable plan of action.