As this article from The Star suggests, when finances get tight, art is the first program to get hit. The article provides some insightful arguments that show the true value of art education.
First off, Sara Diamond (president of OCAD) argues "that the benefits of such institutions far outweigh their costs" and explains that "we hear from employers across all sectors, ‘we need your students. They’ve got the thinking and skills to turn around big problems.’”
Second, John Kissick (director of the School of Fine Arts and Music at the University of Guelph) points out that "in terms of the skill sets needed in the marketplace today, that a studio arts education is as good as it gets outside of the professions."
Then Luis Jacob (a Toronto based artist) makes a great point: “an art school is really important for giving young people a community — a set of peers all trying to create their artistic identities together."
Having been part of such a community at Sheridan College, in the Illustration program, I can attest to the importance of social interaction for the arts. Good ideas take collaboration and criticism to flourish. Innovations build on one another in a community. This leads to critical and creative thinking abilities, confidence, and true grit (See earlier post).
The title quote from this blog sums it up well, from a great thinker of our age, Alan Fletcher:
"Imagination is the active ingredient of thinking."