The arts

The arts are expressions of human creativity.

We can apply and express our creativity in lots of different ways, including:


Painting, drawing, making prints and graphics, photographing, sculpting…

Through performing

Singing, dancing, acting, playing music, telling jokes, telling stories, performing poetry, cabaret, circus, magic…

Through writing

Poems, plays, novels, stories, music…

Through crafting and designing

Textiles, costumes and fashion, woodturning and carving, jewellery, pottery, architecture…

Through multimedia

Filmmaking, animation, computer games, digital art…

…and by mixing these mediums together.

The arts have been an important part of life for thousands of years.

The oldest known drawing by human hands is thought to be 73,000 years old.1

From Blombos Cave, South Africa.

Cave paintings from over 9,000 years ago show people dancing together.2

From Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, India.

The Epic of Gilgamesh – thought to be the earliest surviving literature – is almost 4,000 years old.3
From British Museum, London.

New art mediums have developed alongside new technologies.

In 1826 or 1827, the oldest surviving photograph was taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, from an upstairs window of his house in Burgundy, France.4
In 1888, the first film in the world was shot just outside Leeds in Yorkshire. Louis Le Prince’s Roundhay Garden Scene is 1.66 seconds long.5

In 1928, the first ever TV drama was broadcast in New York. The Queen’s Messenger was adapted from a radio play by the London-born writer J. Hartley Manners.6

In 1951, the first known recording of computer-generated music was made, at Alan Turing’s Computing Machine Laboratory in Manchester. A BBC outside broadcast unit captured three melodies played by the computer: the national anthem God Save the King, the nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep and Glenn Miller’s jazz classic In The Mood.7
Audio from British Library. Engineering © Jack Copeland; Jason Long
In 1952, the first ever video game was developed, also in Manchester. Christopher Strachey redesigned the board game draughts (or checkers) for play against a computer.8

The fruits of the arts are all around us.

They are the films and TV shows we watch, the music we listen to, the stories we read, the clothes we wear, the computer games we play, the buildings we live in.

Investing in and supporting creative skills produces a vibrant culture from which everyone benefits.

  1. New York Times[]
  2. Libretexts[]
  3. Wikipedia[]
  4. Wikipedia[]
  5. Guinness World Records[]
  6. Wikipedia[]
  7. British Library[]
  8. Guinness World Records[]