Why the arts matter to civilization

“I’m hoping people will look at how they engage with the arts, re-evaluate this notion that gets sold to us that the consumption of a book or a painting or a non-entertainment movie or a play is an elitist activity that you do when important business of your life is completed and you have a little leisure time. That’s just dead wrong.

“Civilization is an agreement people have to behave in certain ways towards each other. It’s not governments and roads and buildings and stock markets. When you engage with works of art you are participating in that conversation. You are judging what is good and what is bad, and what you want and don’t want. It’s really important if we want to have civilization that individuals continue to do this in a thoughtful and reflective way.”

—Steven Galloway

Galloway is the acting chair of the Creative Writing Program at UBC (soon to be my latest alma mater) and discussed this in an interview with the Toronto Star. His novel The Cellist of Sarajevo was chosen by the Toronto Public Library as its One Book for the Keep Toronto Reading festival.