Rainn Wilson on why the arts:
I thought, "Why are we teaching the arts to girls who really need jobs and shoes and homes and skills?" Boy, was I proven wrong. The program was incredibly successful. Watching these adolescent girls, many of whom were illiterate and had their own children themselves, and most of whom had suffered greatly in their short lives, blossom over the course of 10 days was absolutely thrilling.
Why? Well, the arts give you a voice. They allow a person to express their heart and soul and identity. Most education in Haiti is simple, hollow, repetition-based reading, writing and arithmetic. To truly flourish, one needs to find one's inner strength. The arts help provide that link. My heart ached when, one day, we asked the girls what their favorite color was and we soon realized that most of them had never been asked that question before. No one cared about their opinions about anything. By the end of the week, the timid, fearful, shut-down girls whom we had first tip-toed into the program were showing off their photos, poems, theater exercises and art projects with passion and confidence. They were empowered by the arts and expression. Ready to begin to learn.
Rainn wrote an article for Huffington Post the expands on these ideas.