August 18, 2003

Putting a Higher Dollar Value on Children’s Artistic Interests

Filed under: Art and About Kids — admin @ 2:25 pm

I have just learned about The Wiggles. They’re an Australian band that appears on the Disney Channel and has been called “The Beatles for kids.” Apparently, the rock we live under at our house is quite massive because to be the parent of a toddler and not know about The Wiggles recently elicited some stunned looks from our friends.

The Wiggles make TV shows, record CDs, do videos, have an interactive Web site, and tour the world giving live concerts. Apparently, a gripe from many parents is the high prices of the tickets for these concerts. Everyone over one-year-old is charged full boat and, according to our scoffing friends, “Parents will pay this to bring their two-year-olds to the concert.”

Initially, I scoffed, too. I believe I have a cultural reflex to scoff at parents who materially “overindulge” their children. But then it occurred to me that I’m being an arts hypocrite. I wouldn’t blink at an adult paying some exorbitant price for a concert they really wanted to see. Why do I put less value on something that makes a child’s heart go pitter-pat?

I can think of a few arguments. The Wiggles are just a fad. Well, maybe so, but they are a musical fad, which makes them important in my book. (Believe it or not, I will even heatedly defend Barney the purple dinosaur because of the show’s commitment to using music to teach important concepts.) And no doubt the fads that were important to me helped shape a small part of the person I am today. For better or for worse, they are part of my experiential make up and it isn’t for me to impose criteria on anyone else as to which fads they should follow.

Another argument is that a two-year-old won’t remember the concert. I believe he may not be able to remember it in his conscious mind, but no doubt a love of music, maybe even of music played live, will live on in his heart perpetuating the arts into the next generation.

One argument that I sincerely hope is not the root of any scoffing is that a toddler’s artistic interests are not as important as the parent’s and therefore should not be supported financially. This would probably be one of those repressed, psychological issues that Dr. Phil would have to dig pretty deep to discover for us because perhaps our parents sent the message when we were young that our artistic interests weren’t worthy of their hard-earned cash. If perchance this is an issue for some parents, then maybe by bringing it into the light it can be overcome.

This subject of people having a different scale for money they spend on art for themselves as opposed to art that interests their children came up in my family last March when my parents returned from a trip to the Pacific Rim countries. They focused on buying hand-crafted souvenirs for my kids made by artisans from each country — puzzles, toys, games, wall-hangings, and even embroidered T-shirts whenever possible. They told the story of a chat they had with a person in India about the beautiful embroidery on shirts in that country. My mom had noticed there were no children’s sizes available, and the artisan said that although children’s embroidered garments take as much effort for them to make, tourists are not willing to pay a high price for a child’s shirt. So the message I’m getting here from those tourists is that children are not important enough to be given wearable art, probably because they’ll only wear it for a short time before it’s outgrown. So what? And, choosing to support art created by the talents of another individual is something only for the realm of the adult world. Hmmm……

I know there is nothing on earth worth as much to me as my children. Don’t you feel the same? We should make sure we underscore that worth by supporting their personal connections to the arts.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML ( You can use these tags): <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> .