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The media has been abuzz about the remarks that legendary Harry Belafonte made about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s lack of activism and philanthropy. On Thursday, researchers at University of Illinois at Chicago released results from their study about artists and altruism. The study found that people with an active interest in the arts contribute more to society than those with little or no interest in it. Whether you’re the performer or the spectator, your interest in the arts means you’re more than likely to have an altruistic streak, researchers said.
Lead investigator Kelly LeRoux, an assistant professor of public administration at UIC, explained how they came to this conclusion. ”We correlated survey responses to arts-related questions to responses on altruistic actions — like donating b***d, donating money, giving directions, or doing favors for a neighbor — that place the interests of others over the interests of self,” she said. “Even after controlling for age, race and education, we found that participation in the arts, especially as audience, predicted civic engagement, tolerance and altruism.“
There are a number of people who reference songs by Jay-Z or Beyoncé that have carried them through hardship. Technically speaking, is that not giving back? As I’ve written before, I strongly believe the famous couple can do more, and should do more; but if we all did more we wouldn’t need to place the task of activism and philanthropy on the backs of a selected few.