For some time now, arts advocates have argued about all the benefits that the arts provide to society. Invariably, these benefits spill out beyond the niche that arts have been relegated to in our market-based society where pop culture is the dominant force. Properly structured, arts programs can benefit children, teens, adults and seniors in many ways: education, health, criminal justice, community identity.

That doesn’t diminish the importance of the professional arts. At least, it shouldn’t. But sometimes it seems as though art is only valued if it provides some back-end benefit in one of the above-noted areas. Instead of plundering the extremely modest amount of funds that go to the professional arts now to achieve these broader societal goals, it would be nice if money could be directed to the arts from other areas in recognition of the value that they deliver to our community.

Which brings us to the p-o-t-d. March 27-29, Common Weal Community Arts, in collaboration with Jumblies Theatre, is hosting a workshop called Art For All Essential that explores various aspects of organizing, funding and presenting community art activities. Before that event starts though, a free symposium on community arts is being held today at the United Way Centre (1440 Scarth) from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

For more information on both events call 780-9442 or visit