“How Do the Arts Benefit Society and/or the Individual?”

As part of our celebration of the arts, Arizona Jewish Life asked philanthropists, collectors, artists and educators to share their ideas on: “How do the arts benefit society and/or the individual?”

Following are their replies:

Jordan Schnitzer
Philanthropist and art collector

“Arts are the best of what we do in society and the inspiration we receive through visual arts, dance, music and theater enriches our hearts and souls to help us be better creative problem solvers in the issues we face in our daily lives.”


Allan Naplan
executive and producing director, Arizona Musicfest

“The arts provide elevation and inspiration of human emotions. Artists and the art they create, transcend the intangible and allow for feelings and ideas to become richer, louder, brighter, bigger, safer, deeper and clearer. Arts enhance our society by honoring yesterday, enlivening today and inspiring tomorrow.”


J.E. Laufer
author and president, Little Egg Publishing Company

“The arts benefit both society and the individual in ways that deepen each of us, so therefore impact all of us. The universal language of music, art, dance and theater have the ability to connect us all, at the deepest levels of being. This positive creative energy, has the ability to unite people regardless of color, race, religion or political affiliation.”


Melissa Manchester

Melissa Manchester is a singer-songwriter and actress, who and has been performing her music since the 1970s. Melissa just launched her 21st album, “The Fellas” through the crowd-sourcing platform Indiegogo, which she used for her last album, “You Gotta Love the Life.” She was encouraged by her students from USC Thornton School of Music to pursue this method of funding.

“Life shows up for me in songs. Some people make quilts and some people sketch and
I write songs.”


Janet Arnold
JFCS Creative Aging Coordinator

“The arts are an intrinsic part of Judaism. Just look at all of the Jewish composers, lyricists, actors, directors, comedians and more! There is much scientific data that the arts help us learn and stay healthy and in addition I believe the arts help us to become complete and enhance our humanity. I can’t imagine a world without the arts!”


Todd Herzog
singer/songwriter and Cantorial Soloist at Temple Solel in Paradise Valley

“The arts benefit society because they represent a common bond of humanity that does not depend on words or education.  The arts can bypass the intellect and impact people on a very deep soul level.  When used in a spiritual context, the arts can very literally raise the vibration in the room and transform a group of people into a community.  The arts and (for me) music in particular, allow me to feel a connection to God.  When I create music, I am able to let go of my individual self and become a conduit for a higher truth.”


Matt Lehrman
principal, Social Prosperity Partners

“Arts and cultural experiences enable us to see the world through the eyes of others. It nurtures empathy, understanding and trust, which are essential to how people live and thrive in a free and democratic society.”


Mark Rothko
Portland-raised artist whose first exhibit at the Portland Art Museum was in 1933-34; PAM hosted a second exhibit of his work in 2012

“Art is such an action. It is a kindred form of action to idealism. They are both expressions of the same drive, and the man who fails to fulfill this urge in one form or another is as guilty of escapism as the one who fails to occupy himself with the satisfaction of bodily needs. In fact, the man who spends his entire life turning the wheels of industry so that he has neither time nor energy to occupy himself with any other needs of his human organism is by far a greater escapist than the one who developed his art. For the man who develops his art does make adjustments to his physical needs. He understands that man must have bread to live, while the other cannot understand that you cannot live by bread alone.”
~ From The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art, by Mark Rothko


Beth Surdut
visual storyteller

“You may as well ask, “How does breathing benefit society and/or the individual.” The creations that artists put forth into the world can engage, educate, elucidate, entertain, enrich, raise questions, provide answers, prompt us to think, feel, react and interact. The many aspects of creative expression are essential elements of being human.”


David Ivers
artistic director, Arizona Theatre Company

“The arts better contextualize our world revealing the genius in our collective citizenry; helping to build culturally literate communities. Art ties us to tradition, entertains, asks us to conjure new ways of expressing our innermost fears and desires and almost always provides critical perspective seemingly unavailable” elsewhere.


BJ Katz
glass artist and owner of Meltdown Glass Studio in Tempe

“The arts open us up to new ways of seeing things, new forms of self-expression and establishing a connection between people and between the self and our higher power.”


Actor, Author, Producer and Director
“One way or another, everyone is searching for God, whether God is money, philosophy, family or the variety of ways humans search for something beyond themselves. I’d hoped to reflect that search in film.”


Steven Campanelli
director of performing arts, Pardes Jewish Day School

“Speaking from experience as a performer for nearly 20 years, the arts not only provided a positive, creative outlet where I was free to express myself unabashedly and meaningfully, but it also enhanced my social skills, taught me the value of commitment, exposed me to history and gave me a strong command of language. Though the benefits of the arts may vary from individual to individual, I think the common thread is the benefit of enhanced confidence. In this way, participation in the arts…whether in a school, a local community organization, or on a professional stage…serves as a springboard from which individuals are able to move confidently forward in their lives: learning, sharing, maintaining upstanding citizenship and teaching others.”


Shelley Cohn
former executive director, Arizona Commission on the Arts

“The arts are a reflection of ourselves and our world, created by artists who creatively and technically are able to articulate, demonstrate and represent a vision and the world in ways that I could not have previously thought of or imagined. Experiencing the arts makes me think, laugh, cry and examine my world and my reality in new ways. I can’t imagine my life without the visual arts, music, dance, theatre, creative writing, architecture, film, design.”


Herb Paine
president, UpYourNonprofit.com

“If the root meaning of philanthropy is the love of humanity, then the arts are the rich gifts that cultivate and nourish our hearts and minds and souls. Every arts organization whom I’ve served or supported – whether a theatre company, ballet, choir or orchestra – by its community presence, elevates our quality of life, challenges us to reflect on the human condition and even provokes us to improve it. In this respect, the arts are transformational. The fabric that holds a community together would be incomplete without the arts, spiritually, educationally and economically.”

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