Probably, the best theory that I like all which best explains – importance of art – is from Van Jones, subtly provides a great response to What is art?
Van Jones presented a graph that accurately represents the interaction between the four aspects of society and its different members. Consequently, Van jones depicts the importance of art to our society
The graph (below) represents our society.
Society is driven by the powerful elites, the dependent masses, government, cultural producers and artists
Van Jones Graph
On the left you have action, and on the right, ideas; elites are at the top, and the masses are below. There’s an inside act and an outside act.
On the inside, there’s big money: elites are spending millions of dollars to influence politicians and policymakers. The inside act has the power to influence policy creators.
On the outside, we at grassroots set our expectations and needs, so that the elected candidates pass laws that give us power. Masses reflect what society really wants (heart)
The left side, “action,” often means quantifiable policy changes. The right side, “ideas,” can be harder to see. We are not necessarily talking about concrete things here, but rather, a “headspace.” Academic institutions and think tanks, which are not always involved in the immediate policy wins, are significant in creating a culture of thought
While the left side, “action”, continues to produce quantifiable policy changes and new laws, the right side “ïdeas”, can be hard to quantify its outcome. Although “head” talks theories and academics, it fails to produce any significant contribution to policymakers.
Artists come into the play here at this moment
Artists are represented here on the side of ideas, in the “heart space.”
Art is uniquely positioned to move people—inspiring us, inciting new questions and provoking curiosity, excitement, and outrage
Artists can strengthen the will and push people to act. Artists do not think like policymakers or academics people. Artists think from their heart – big, revolutionary and visionary ideas. This is why artists are able to move people to action, thus creates a significant cultural and political contributions.
When you see a Zen garden in Sydney or San Francisco, you know that it’s a practice that originated from China. When you see paper swans swarming a beautiful wedding ceremony, you know that this is origami, an art that came from Japan. When you see films featuring Bollywood music and dancing, you know that it’s a movie from India.