Enjoyment of the arts is what makes life worth living, according to Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro.
Schapiro and Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl emphasized the importance of art in both the Evanston and NU communities during opening remarks given at an Evanston Symphony Orchestra concert held Sunday afternoon at NU's Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.
The performance was entitled "Celebrate Evanston!" in honor of the city's 150th birthday.
Exposure to the arts makes us better people, Tisdahl said, and the amount of support for the arts is "part of what a community is judged on."
Today, educational institutions place a strong focus on STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — fields, but the arts and the humanities are also integral to society, Schapiro said.
He cited NU's planned renovation and expansion of Kresge Hall, which serves students studying the humanities, and construction of a new arts center at the university as proof of the institution's commitment to the arts and humanities.
Work in STEM fields may help keep people alive, but "the reason we want to live is for the humanities and the performing arts," Schapiro said.