Researcher and empathy expert Brené Brown says that human beings are born to be creative. Without creative outlets, she asserts, the potential for quality of life is diminished. In fact, when we do not have ways to express ourselves creatively, the outcome is not benign. "It metastasizes," Brown says.

Acknowledging our creative roots as fundamental to overall health is another way to think about the value of the arts. The arts give us ways to nurture those instinctive parts of ourselves that can unleash good outcomes, for us as individuals and as a society. It's encouraging to know, thanks to a recent opinion poll by Americans for the Arts, that three-quarters of Americans attended an arts or cultural event last year. We know that arts engagement in Greater Cincinnati is particularly high, thanks to research done for ArtsWave by WolfBrown in which residents reported participating in multiple creative endeavors every week.

Nurturing our creativity through the arts provides positive benefits to individuals. Those benefits accrue to our larger community.

WolfBrown's study for ArtsWave revealed a direct correlation between arts engagement and civic engagement, something top of mind this week as our nation prepares to vote next Tuesday. Involvement in the arts is directly correlated with positive civic behaviors like voting and volunteering.

The National Endowment for the Arts has further quantified this relationship: American adults who visit art museums or attend live arts performances are 20% more likely to vote than those who are not involved in the arts.

The arts set young people on the path toward civic engagement, as well. Additional research has shown that young arts participants are twice as likely to register to vote when they are old enough than their counterparts who are not active in the arts.

These unexpected benefits of arts engagement reinforce the need for more arts, for more people.

Creative expression and arts involvement can lead to higher quality of life, and a more civically active life. Let's all realize the advantages we have to be healthier individuals and a stronger nation.