Giving Compass' Take:

•Vu Le explains that arts and music are powerful forces that can mobilize communities, help with healing, and are critical for building social justice movements. 

• How is your philanthropy supporting arts, music, and culture issues? How can you better support those artists who have faced the most adversity? 

• Here are recommendations for arts philanthropy leadership.

In my conversations with folks from arts and music organizations these past few years, though, I sense some existential angsts. A colleague asked me, “People are wondering what the role of art and music is when there’s so many more pressing problems. Is there a place for us in the fight for social justice?”

This question has made me think, and my answer, which I gave in my talk, is that yes, not only do we need art and music, but right now we need it kind of badly.

I’m telling you these stories because when there is so much going on, so many problems to solve, sometimes we think of art and music as indulgent. Who has time for singing and dancing and stained-glass snowflakes when kids are starving or locked in cages?

By thinking this way, we forget about art and music’s power to heal, mobilize, build community, and so much more.

Art and music are critical in our work for social justice, as frequently they are the only things that can reach people, that can provide comfort or generate the visceral, raw emotions needed for social change.

After the election in 2016, when many families and children were terrified, Families of Color Seattle gathered the kids and used art—having the kids draw themselves as superheroes, for example—to help them process their feelings. And this year protesters in Hong Kong, are singing “Do You Hear the People Sing” from Les Miserables as they do a sit-in at the airport.

Read the full article about how art and music are connected to social justice by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.