Arts help us cope with life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 August, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 August, 1993, 12:00am

THE essential question raised by Mr Patkin's letter ''Don't waste cash on arts'' (South China Morning Post, August 24th) is not whether public money should be spent on the arts, but whether society needs the arts at all.

If it does, society has to provide the funding: the arts are too expensive to be self-supporting.

Communications have given us the global village. Every night disasters of a magnitude completely beyond the comprehension flood the television screen - 10,000 thousand people may be the victims of some cataclysm somewhere in the world.

As a result, we become hardened to disasters paraded before us. Science is removing our sensitivity.

Art is independent of science. It encourages us to seek, and helps us to find answers to the side-effects of science.

Art has the ability to make seemingly illogical leaps to new areas, generating new questions. This is essential to our species.

Without art, there are fewer questions. With fewer questions, science provides fewer answers. Fewer answers mean fewer technological innovations. Fewer innovations mean less new products. Fewer products mean less commerce. Less commerce leads to less finance and, as Mr Patkin points out, Hong Kong is a financial centre.

DOMINIC BRITTAIN Jardine's Lookout