Saturday, 5 December 2020

Reasons to be cheerful (Parts 1,2 and 3)

A permanent part of my own musical landscape since about 1978 has been occupied by the band Talking Heads. They were a brilliant blend of art school edge, punk energy, and funk. 

HERE is a great profile of Talking Heads' lead singer David Byrne from 2018. At the time Byrne was touring with a Powerpoint presentation called Reasons to be Cheerful

One of his global reasons to be cheerful is the Knock-on effects of culture

We in the arts and humanities often complain that our work is undervalued, at least in terms of being beneficial to society compared to the Stem disciplines. Finally we have some proof, and the effects are somewhat unexpected. A recent study by the Social Impact of the Arts Project at the University of Pennsylvania showed that when libraries and other cultural institutions are placed in the boroughs around New York, there are surprising knock-on effects:

a. The kids’ test scores go up
b. Spousal abuse goes down
c. Obesity goes down
d. The crime rate goes down

Things that might seem to be unrelated are actually connected. To lower crime, maybe we don’t need more prisons or stiffer sentencing; part of the solution might be to build a library.