British comedian Stephen Fry argues that art is useless – “It is the useless things that make life worth living and that make life dangerous, too: wine, art, love, beauty. Without them, life is safe, but not worth bothering with.” As an educator, as a lifelong learner, and as a human being, I wholeheartedly agree with most of Fry’s premise, except his somewhat contentious point as to art’s usefulness. As we celebrate this year’s MGA Arts Festival, I am proud to see the usefulness of art on display across our campuses. It is part of the role of a university to provide a space in which expression is welcomed and celebrated. And as an institution holding “Engagement” aloft as one of our core values, art is an invaluable means by which we fill that role.

For that is the value of art – it engages us, it draws us in, it creates that space in which we can celebrate our shared experiences. The arts provide us with a lens through which we can see and perceive the world in a way that complements the knowledge and skills we use to perform within that world. As the 18th century polymath Goethe wrote, “Theory is grey, but life is green.” Art is part of that “greening” of our experience, of breathing life into the theories and ideas we learn and share in the classroom – be it beautiful, provocative, compelling, disturbing, or simply novel.

Many cherished in-person activities were forced into hiatus this past year, and we found new ways to stay connected; however, even the best technology cannot replace the experience of being physically present with one another. As we proceed through the next few weeks, I invite the MGA community to come together again socially and safely to engage with the remarkable artistic accomplishments of our students. Let’s continue to take steps toward a return to normalcy – at a musical performance, the theatre, or one of the art exhibits showcasing the artists who are developing their craft at our University.

Art is far from useless Indeed, it may be one of the most useful tools we have in troubled times for keeping ourselves connected to our neighbors, ourselves, and our own humanity. Together let’s celebrate it, experience it, and engage with it.

For information about the MGA Arts Festival events, visit