I found this at theColorado Alliance for Arts Education and thought it summed up my passion for not only art, but much of what makes my life interesting to me:
A piece of art can be viewed much like a text. It can demonstrate a period in history, a complex idelogogy, a specific philosophy, etc. Watching Martha Graham dance can be invaluable to understanding deconstructionist theory and postmodernism. Looking at an art piece representing thousands of pills can provide a starting point for dialogue among students of medical ethics. The arts can provide a reference, much like a text, to academic centered dialogues and pursuits.
Creativity is fashionably conceived as the engine for innovation and new ideas, but just as important is artistic creativity's links to emotions and feelings; artistic creativity is as much about AFFECT as it is about COGNITION. Economics is beginning to recognize the importance of emotions, affective resonance and emotional 'intelligence' as an economic resource.
All of the skills realized through ongoing learning through and participation in the arts will help America's workforce remain competitive in an increasingly knowledge-based and global economy.
Creative thinking that results in problem solving can be fostered through education in the arts, and understanding of international, national and regional cultures can be fostered through education in the humanities.
The arts, cultural, and intellectual property sectors of the U.S. and other economies are enormous and growing at rates faster than the economies as a whole
Now, if I could only find the Wired article I read that argued that it will be the arts that will provide the next set pf paradigm shifts in our society. There are over 1800 hits for "art' on thier site in the last year and I just keep getting distracted (by them) wading through them...