The importance of performing arts in an interconnected world

STEM fields – or those involving Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology – dominate the modern employment landscape, while arts-based students are increasingly being told they won’t be able to make a living off their passions. But even though demand for STEM graduates is continually on a rise, we now consume more media than we ever have before.

A myriad of online content is produced by performing arts professionals every year. In fact, the University of Derby notes that the average student has spent more than 30,000 hours surfing the internet and playing videogames by the time they reach university level. That’s 1,250 days, or nearly three and a half years of their lives! This means students spend more time consuming media than they do studying for their university degree, highlighting the extent to which the arts industry is thriving.

Why, then, does public perception of performing arts remain so biased and unfounded? Because the performing arts impact our world in so many ways:

  • Performing arts teach us how to express ourselves. One of the core components of what makes us human is the desire to express our culture, emotions, and beliefs. That desire for expression teaches us a lot about ourselves. We can use the performing arts to understand how society works, and educate ourselves about the world we live in – why else do you think government officials would rush to close theatres and Performing Arts Centres in times of revolution?
  • Performing arts attract tourism. When people go on holiday or take a break from the daily grind, they don’t want to watch a lab technician examine slides on a microscope. As interesting and important as that may be, holiday makers want to see a show. They want to forget, if only for a moment, about the problems facing our world that STEM researchers and professionals are facing every day.
  • The economy benefits significantly from the performing arts. Ever heard a song so beautiful that it gave you goosebumps? Ever been moved to tears by a film? Chances are good that you have. While you were busy being captivated by performance, economies all over the world are reaping the benefits of stirring your emotions. And this is no rare occurrence – millions of us listen to music and watch TV on a daily basis. Needless to say, our collective contributions to the industry create serious cash for economies around the world.

Image courtesy of the University of Derby

Despite previous predictions that the performing arts industry was doomed to oblivion, modern universities still recognize the importance of the performing arts in society, particularly the Department of Media and Performing Arts at the University of Derby.  Through its award-winning degree programmes, Derby offers a unique blend of traditional teaching methods and professional practice to foster the artistic passions of students in an ever-changing, technological world.

  • BA (Hons) Music: At Derby, you’ll have access to the tools you need to create a diverse professional portfolio, including recording studios, rehearsal spaces, instruments, and so much more. You’ll learn the ins-and-outs of the industry, including sound production, administration, creativity, and music technology. Derby’s music programmes are also accredited by JAMES, an honor bestowed only to those who have set the industry’s highest standards.
  • BA (Hons) Contemporary Theatre and Performance: From sound and lighting to wardrobe and makeup, you’ll learn what happens on both sides of the stage at Derby Theatre, which is owned by the university. Not only will you take classes taught by industry professionals, but you’ll also be able to work with the staff of Derby Theatre to learn tricks of the trade.
  • BA (Hons) Dance: Derby has partnered with Déda, the only dance house in the East Midlands, to provide dance students with real-world dance experience. You can dance in any style in Déda studios, including hip-hop, contemporary, modern, or even yoga. Your teachers are professional choreographers, who will encourage you to attend a wealth of professional performances. You’ll also have opportunities to show off the skills you’ve learned at festivals around the world.

Not only has the university won awards for its creative efforts, but also so has its students. Yue Liu, a Derby international student, has recently been awarded Best Camera Work and Best Factual Film by the Royal Television Society Awards. Yue’s film, ‘A Girl’s Story’, will go on to represent Derby once again at the National Royal Television Society in 2017. This is the second year in which a film from Derby has been shortlisted for the Royal Television Society Awards.

Image courtesy of the University of Derby

Yue’s outstanding achievement is a testament to the high-quality education provided by the Department of Media and Performing Arts at Derby. The department is dedicated not only to teaching the performing arts, but researching it as well; the 21st century has brought forth some incredible new mediums for the performing arts, which Derby is exploring and integrating into its comprehensive portfolio of media and performing arts programmes of study.

Yes, STEM careers are vital to human progression, solving real-world problems in real-time. But even STEM researchers know that the birth of human creativity played a key part in our success as a species. Instead of chastising arts hopefuls and their diverse and abundant creative industries, we should embrace and respect the mystifying balance of logic and creativity that has forever defined our species…because without performing arts, we surrender a colossal part of what now makes us human.

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Feature image via Unsplash

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