Art & culture are definitely not something to just be seen, they are more than that. They are an expression of emotions, emotions that can’t be expressed out aloud or maybe even if they can, they would fall behind in the beauty as that expressed through art and culture. They are the fundamental element of human society since it came into existence since humans did not even know that they could speak. They are an implicit form of communication, and as such, a very important medium for democracy.
When things are not right, it becomes easy to question the times when they actually were because often it happens that whenever we look back, in hindsight, we only focus on the things that go beyond the benchmark of normalcy- the extraordinary, the extremes. But in the process, we forget that what binds them all are the normal, little things kept alone & aside, basking in the glory of art & culture.
“While art itself might not change the world. It is clear that it can empower those who will.”
Silence, as it is believed, translates to consent. But at the same time, silence also confirms oppression because often, it is only the luxury of the privileged to own the right to speak. Our societies and the way they function have more than not, failed to provide us with the societal construct of equality but there is hope. There is hope in art & culture. Even though there seems to be no connection between art and culture and democracy and the question that comes forth is ‘Can the arts be a stimulus for democracy?’, in practicality, the answer is yes, they do have a strong connection amongst themselves and the artistic manifestations can have effects over democracy.
Keeping an open mind, we can say that arts revolve around emotions and democracy, or politics to be precise, revolves around a rational decision making keeping in mind all the aspects of not just the self but also the society. But is the separation of emotions and rationale truly that possible or that simple? If we look through properly, we will notice that arts and culture and not about manipulating one’s emotions and translate them to produce political effects but about channelising them to actually contemplate and act as food for thought.
In a system with a fair right to speak, manifestations of arts and culture in the form of drama, songs, posters, theatre, folklores become a crucial part of daily lives. As something that is relatable to people at a mass scale, they can pave the way to communitization, a feeling of being a part of the group, of joining into something greater than one’s own self. They can help in making people more informed, raise public consciousness and make the process of understanding things easier. They give a voice to those who are overlooked or often, silenced. They inspire people in making a call, a call to action, a call towards the right path. They can bring people together to initiate discussions, civic dialogue, and public participation.
Democracy is based on the idea that all of it is about people and that people do reserve the right to have it all, to choose, to trust, to vote and to elect. And to have a vote is to have a voice. It is the icon of democracy. It means to be able to represent ourselves clearly and to be accountable and to demand accountability.
The use of arts and culture and their relative manifestations should not be made in an attempt to stimulate people to make a choice but to make people aware that they have to and to make them know that this is all that you have in front of you, the way it is. It has to be acknowledged that if there is a voice, then what should also be there is the true and the just representation of that voice. Arts and culture protect a long-term view and has a direct bearing on our ability to face the issues of the present and to understand the issues of the past. They invite participation and help situate science and technology by giving them a meaning in the form of reflecting their roles in society. And that is how they strengthen a democracy.
After all, “Not all art must be inclusive, but no art should be exclusive”.