The Importance of the Arts

Question: Do you recall a pivotal moment in your childhood?

Dana Gioia: I mean I had about 500 small epiphanies that brought me from one place to another.  I mean there are certain things that would have happened to change my life.  For example, I was in a very ugly, ugly place.  There was no open land.  There was nothing beautiful to look at in Hawthorne.  And I didn’t know it at the time, but I was starved for beauty.  And one night on TV there was a documentary on Michelangelo, and I just watched it with, you know, agog.  And the next day I went to this large, public library a few blocks from my house, took out an art book and, really for the next five or six years, I read every book in this large depository . . . library on art.  And this was when I was about 10 or 11, so obviously that’s something that, even though I’ve never been a painter or a visual arts critic, it was one of the things that brought me into the arts.  One of the things that opened up the idea of history, the idea of aesthetics to me.  You know, in the same way that these little glimpses that one got planted seeds that really paid off years and years later.  That’s one of the reasons I think, as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, I consider arts education so important.  Even if it’s just exposing kids to a single things once.  Because for somebody in the audience, it will change their life for the better.

Recorded On: 7/6/07

Art can change a child's life.

7 fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.

Photo by Raunaq Patel on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
  • Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
  • These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Keep reading Show less

Why the number 137 is one of the greatest mysteries in physics

Famous physicists like Richard Feynman think 137 holds the answers to the Universe.

Surprising Science
  • The fine structure constant has mystified scientists since the 1800s.
  • The number 1/137 might hold the clues to the Grand Unified Theory.
  • Relativity, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are unified by the number.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less