Happiness and a High Quality of Life: The Role of Art and Art Making
The Pocantico Gathering
From May 31 through June 2, 2007, the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy hosted a unique gathering of writers and thinkers at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in Tarrytown, New York.
“Happiness and a High Quality of Life: The Role of Art and Art Making” explored two key questions: Do art and art-making have a special role in creating happiness and a high quality of life in Western society? If so, how should public policy be shaped and deployed to strengthen those connections in America?
Although a number of prominent arts specialists participated in the gathering, the conference bypassed the questions of funding and leadership that constituted a conventional arts agenda, focusing instead on questions of human happiness, satisfaction, and meaning in life as framed by experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, history, medicine, anthropology, folklore, literature, and other disciplines. The meeting was supported by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Although a number of meeting participants were charged in advance with the task of initiating discussion on specific topics, no formal papers were prepared. Inevitably, talk often circled back to touch on the same issues from different perspectives, and conversation frequently raised as many questions as were answered. Although well-versed in the relationship between happiness and family, work, and spiritual life, participants were clearly advancing into new territory, tentatively identifying those distinctive elements of the arts and art-making that might lead to happiness and a high quality of life.
Both the meeting and this report are intended to be preliminary. Nevertheless, the conversation was promising; as attendees concluded their Pocantico meeting, there was general agreement that the two-day consideration of the connections between art and a high quality of life pointed the way to both further conversation and specific research. Read the full article: “Happiness and a High Quality of Life: The Role of Art and Art Making.”