Art and ‘the arts’

Investing in arts may help governments to overcome social problems.

There are generally only two options: art and the arts.

the arts
Art is usually painting and sculpture, but can include other things that you’re likely to see in an art gallery, such as photography, installations and happenings. (Indonesian flag ‘seni rupa’)

  • However art depicting supernatural subjects was very popular.
  • Iranian art has gone through numerous phases.
  • Very often art galleries are themselves works of art.

The arts are a wide variety of creative work that includes painting and sculpture, as well as music, dance, opera, theatre, ballet, and even literature. (Indonesian flag ‘kesenian’)

  • The arts is a broad subdivision of culture, composed of many expressive disciplines.
  • Appreciation of the arts is part of any education curriculum.

Governments usually support a wide range of creative activities – known as the arts – and there may even be a government department that is responsible for this. For example Arts Council England (formerly part of The Arts Council of Great Britain) funds an extremely wide range of arts activity that is certainly not limited to painting and sculpture.

Returning to our opening example, our writer surely means investment in all of the arts, not just the art that is displayed in an art gallery:

  • Investing in the arts may help governments to overcome social problems.

Notice that ‘arts’ (plural) always has ‘the’ as long as it is the main noun in a phrase. On the other hand if ‘arts’ is modifying another noun, you may or may not need ‘the’:

  • I’m a huge fan of the arts. (main noun: the arts)
  • I’m a serious arts fan. (main noun: fan)

Try this practice activity:

Select words from the drop-down menus to complete the text. When you have finished, click 'Check your answers!' for feedback.

OK I understand

If you’re a fan of and you’re in Bali between mid-June and mid-July, come along to Bali festival. There you’ll see all kinds of , including painting and sculpture. You’ll also be able to see other examples of such as dance and theatre. Balinese people are not usually lovers, but during the festival they take more of an interest in , and as with other festivals, there’s plenty to eat and drink.

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