Blog: Neeta Delaney

Neeta Delaney is a champion of the arts. She's the current President and CEO of ArtServe Michigan and the former President and CEO of the Jackson County Community Foundation, where she spearheaded the Armory Arts Project. Neeta will be writing about why Michigan should care more about... you guessed it, arts and culture.

Post No. 5

Arts Education = Creative Talent

So we've covered a lot here. We've talked about how arts and culture are the keys to urban revitalization. We've covered how you can get involved as an advocate or ambassador for the arts in Michigan. As this is my final post, I’d like to bring it all back to the beginning and look at the roots of how arts and culture will shape Michigan's future – which means we need to talk about education. 

The well-respected nonprofit think tank Michigan Future, Inc. recently released its first annual report following its much publicized 2006 report entitled "A New Agenda for a New Michigan." In that original report, the most important finding was that the regions of the country that are thriving all have one thing in common - the ability to attract and retain talent. "What most distinguish successful areas from Michigan are their concentrations of talent, where talent is defined as a combination of knowledge, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Quite simply, in a knowledge-driven and entrepreneurial economy, the places with the greatest concentrations of talent win." 
So what are we doing to nurture and develop this type of talent. It’s one thing to retain and attract it, but even more fundamental is the need to cultivate it in our children. Results from a national poll released in late January by Lake Research Partners focuses on a growing awareness that we need to make sure we are cultivating imagination in our young people as an integral part of their public education. 

The new national survey of 1,000 likely voters identifies that 30% of American voters are not only dissatisfied with public education’s narrow focus on the 'so-called" basics but that they also believe developing the imagination is a critical, but missing, ingredient to student success in 21st century schools and moving students beyond average. 

  • Almost nine in ten voters (89%) say that using the imagination is important to innovation and one’s success in a global knowledge-based economy and essential to success in the 21st Century.
  • 88% of respondents indicated that an education in and through the arts is essential to cultivating the imagination.

As we advocate for the important role that Michigan arts, culture and creativity play in shaping our state's future, we need to make sure we connect the dots between the kind of Michigan we say we want and those things we need to invest in if we hope to get there.   

Clearly, cultivating the imagination of our children through education in and through the arts is an essential part of the equation and something we should keep front of mind and on the tips of our tongues. I remain hopeful that eventually the facts will stick.