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Arts and Humanities Month

Arts and Humanities Month

September 28, 2016

Each year, the president officially proclaims October to be Arts and Humanities Month. This year President Barack Obama wrote, “In many ways, the arts and humanities reflect our national soul. They are central to who we are as Americans — as dreamers and storytellers, creators and visionaries.” He also referenced unity, saying, “In our increasingly global economy, we recognize the power of the arts and humanities to connect people around the world. Be it through the pen of a poet, the voice of a singer, or the canvas of a painter, let us continue to harness the unparalleled ways the arts and humanities bring people together.”

October is upon us. Join others all across the country in this celebration of the arts.

Ten Ways to Take Part

1. Read a favorite poem to a friend. Then, ask your friend to read one in return.

Not sure where to begin? If your audience is younger, browse this list. For teenagers and young adults, here are 180 poems compiled for Billy Collins’ “Poetry 180 / A Poem a Day for American High Schools.” There are also pointers on “How to read a poem out loud.”  Looking for more? Try the Poetry Out Loud anthology, used in high schools across the United States every year.

2. During dinner, encourage each family member to share one creative thing he or she did that day.

Maybe they took a photo or shot a video, made up a song, or built something with Legos. We’re all makers! Author Elizabeth Gilbert told Krista Tippett, “The entire world, for better or for worse, has been altered by the human hand, by human beings doing this weird and irrational thing that only we do amongst all our peers in the animal world, which is…making things a little more beautiful than they have to be, altering things, changing things, building things, composing things, shaping things. This is what we do. We’re the making ape. And no one is left out of the inheritance of that. That’s our shared human inheritance.”

3. Attend one of the Vermont Humanities Council’s “First Wednesday” events taking place October 5 in nine Vermont communities.

Then, make the Vermont Humanities Council’s “First Wednesday” lectures a regular part of your schedule. They continue through May.

4. Visit a gallery or museum.

Check the Vermont Arts Calendar to find exhibits near you. Here are some ideas if you would like to combine your visit with a foliage tour. Or, plan an artsy road trip.

5. Sing (or send) your favorite song to a friend, and tell why you love it so.

If you really can’t explain why, take a look at this study by The Greater Good. Among other things, neuroscientists monitored brain activity while introducing different styles of songs. “They found that music impacts many centers of the brain simultaneously; but, somewhat surprisingly, each style of music made its own pattern, with uptempo songs creating one kind of pattern, slower songs creating another, lyrical songs creating another, and so on. Even if people didn’t like the songs or didn’t have a lot of musical expertise, their brains still looked surprisingly similar to the brains of people who did.” Interesting.

see ten ways to take part #7

6. Go to a matinee with a friend, or child, or grandchildren. Yes — buy the popcorn!

Vermonters are arts makers and arts consumers. We’re a little short on movie-going. Act now!

7. Dance.

Cue up a favorite tune and go wild (see photo).

8. Choose a person in your community who exemplifies what you love most about the arts or the humanities.

Write that person a letter explaining why you admire his/her work. If you’d really like to shout it out, write a letter to the editor of your local paper about this person’s contribution to the community.

9. Read a new arts blog.

Here’s one by the Surface Design Association of Vermont. The Council’s featured stories cover art from student composers to public art. Seven Days’ articles on the arts are pulled into one section: Arts + Life. On the national level, check out AFTA’s ARTS Blog. Do you have a favorite? Share it in the comments section.

10. Show your art on social media.

#showyourart is a social media campaign designed by Americans for the Arts. The intent is to engage arts advocates on local, state, and national levels, and to build awareness of National Arts and Humanities Month. Use #showyourart and tag @americans4arts in the captions of your images on Instagram. They’ll be reposting their favorite photos throughout the month.

What will you create this October? Share with us on Facebook, instagram and Twitter, using #vtarts2016 and tagging @vtartscouncil.


Susan McDowell

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Tags: Americans for the Arts, Billy Collins, Poetry Out Loud, Vermont Humanities Council


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