Is Art a catalyst for change?

In The Observer’s Sunday May 8th 2005 newspaper, Kwame Kwai-Armah expressed her opinion towards the arts as “Art is one of the greatest catalysts for debate, and debate is the greatest catalyst of change”. 

I believe that through this quote, Kwame Kwai-Armah wanted to relate Art to social movements and how they help to make change. However, I disagree with this. I agree that Art can be used to spike a social movement and may lead to increased awareness towards the issue, however, I feel that it is ineffective at creating change.

Although writing a song or vandalizing a wall with graffiti can help to expose a social issue, it is unlikely that this will catch the attention of the government and even more improbable that the government will want to change their ways solely because of these artworks. An example of this can be found in the disputes between Russia and Ukraine. The Artists Support Ukraine initiative aims to raise awareness about the Euromaidan protests in Kiev through artwork. They want to stand up against advances from the Russian government. A piece of the artwork is by Eric Michael and is attached below.


Even with all this artwork that is being produced, I feel that art causes people to feel emotion, however it is not powerful enough or persuasive enough to change the main power holders. Since those people already hold immense power in comparison to the artists, it is easy for them to block the art out and focus on their own goals.

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