Art and cultures are deep-rooted in our community as they are representations of one’s thoughts and beliefs, which further contributes to the formation of attitudes and behaviors, and sustains self-identity and sense of belonging. There are various forms of art, including but not limited to music, dance and painting, which highlight human’s creativity while cultures are diverse across countries through the ages. Despite the fact that art encompasses individual works and cultures which are different geographically, their far-reaching impact on the community includes the enhancement of social cohesion. These rather intangible human artifacts are crucial to bringing the world together beyond the limitations of time, geography and backgrounds.
Art and culture strengthens social cohesion through the removal of the barriers that seemingly hinder mutual understanding and communication. We are all different individuals and this implies difficulty for one to interpret others’ mental progress accurately. Nevertheless, art and culture create different channels for us to attain better understanding and develop relationships. The Journal from the Psychology Today stated that the formation of art and culture originates from human imagination or underlying beliefs and values which are representations of self characterised by indirect and non-verbal expression. Messages are coded into artistic productions and virtuals and transmitted freely through creative mediums for others who are interested in bridging the relationships. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation declared freedom of speech as one of human rights which further encourages people to seek connections in life and grow with companions. Apart from verbal expression, we share our life in a way that we feel comfortable, making connections and communication delicate and easier.
The process of making connections paves the way for us to cultivate empathy and social awareness which enhance cohesiveness in the community. Empathy is a personal quality where we place ourselves in another person’s shoes and experience life events with another perspective to gain new insights when explaining others’ behaviors and interpretations. Hence, art and culture stimulate our sensation, cognition and comprehension when one takes the initiative to uncover the hidden words and make sense of what is perceived. Social awareness is greatly consolidated when engages the life of others with curiosity and open-mindedness. This builds the foundation of a cohesive society as people are more ready to get to know each other.
The power of artistic production and virtuals also affirms the sense of belonging and unifies the community as they are storytellers of personal experiences that may relate to matters of time. It is possible for one to include reflections and feelings about social issues that reflect the community situations of that period. Therefore, a collection of creative production and traditions may formulate a theme of one specific community which illustrate what is happening on where one specific group lives. With similar encounterings, resonance is escalated between the people who live in the same community and glue them together to form an “us”.
In light of the benefits of art and culture on enhancing connectedness in societies, 4 ways of promotion are addressed to examine the possibilities to develop a peaceful and harmonious community.
1. Exhibition and Talks
One of the promoting approaches is exhibitions and talks which engage people into the artistic and traditional world directly. Common practices of the exhibition includes the museum and charitable pop-up showcase which provides a longer period for people to have an in-depth look at the works of others or objects with cultural value like ancient clothing. The latter focuses on talks where one may reveal their own reasoning and impression to share life. A highlight of this method is that they are rather detailed for one to gain adequate information which assists in generating accurate understanding. An additional point of this method is the binding of advanced technology in this contemporary world in which exhibitions and talks can be demonstrated online or recorded to be reviewed on the internet. Google Arts and Culture displayed thousands of slideshows and virtual exhibitions for everyone to immerse themselves in the world of diversified imaginations and traditions.
Another practice of promotion is to arrange workshops for all ages. Experiential learning is found advantageous for people to memorise and familiar with new knowledge as behaviors visualised the learning process in mind for awareness and reproduction. This is also commonly found in school when students are exposed to an activity-based learning environment to make crafts like posters and pamphlets or media like videos and presentations slides, based on a learning topic selected earlier. Instant personal experiences will enrich one’s learning physically which explain why it may inspire deeper mental understanding and interpretation out of the frame. This promotion is excellent as it applies to all ages by simply changing the activities according to the targeted group. Moreover, workshops allow people to evaluate their understanding during different stages of learning so as to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of gaining new insights. Self-reflection may help one to adjust their own learning process to attain better outcomes.
Workshops aside, education is widely-accepted when it comes to the delivery of knowledge. Research from human developmental studies discovered that early education serves an important role in transferring wisdom and techniques as children are comparatively more eager to learn. Hence, education is a feasible option when the teaching of arts and cultures are included in the education curriculum to make learning systematic and highly accessible. Education is a public resource that is available for everyone which makes promotion more favourable. Moreover, modification and evaluation can be made under professional supervision. Apart from schooling, there are various licensed arts centres where people can find tutors covering different skills while culture is mentioned in extra-curricular classes focusing on general and cultural studies. There are a lot of choices with easy reach which further foster education within the community.
4. Policy Implementation
The last suggestion comes to policy implementation in which local governments or relevant organizations act as pioneers in bringing arts and cultures to the community. These official bodies are legal in allocating resources to launch advertisements or programs to encourage people to notice the importance of having creativity and traditions in life. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published the Perspectives on Global Development: Social Cohesion in a Shifting World and enacted Social Cohesion Policy Reviews (SCPRs) as a new tool which emphasised the importance of social cohesion on fighting against poverty and inequality as citizens worked together for general well-being. This reflects that policymaking serves great value in changing the social situation. Meanwhile, the Artistic Creative Community Network stresses the importance of nurturing the awareness towards aesthetic making and customs and tries to connect joint-force effort and experience in creating more cohesive communities. It is hoped to cultivate individuals to pay attention to intangible valuations which serves a great purpose in enhancing social cohesion.
Living in the contemporary world that is full of artistic and cultural exchange indicates the need to raise public awareness towards the positive impact of them on social cohesion. Connectedness is the key to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts so as to promote community harmony and stability. A small step to open our hearts for arts and cultures may become a leap for our community development. We are all in this together.