I always believe that art is primarily about self-expression. Artists must have a strong feeling about something to try and give it a form so that they and others can come to terms with it. When others identify with a particular artist, they can draw encouragement, inspiration and a sense of purpose about a specific subject; in that way, we can use art indirectly to bring about any change in the sensibilities of others. Then that piece of art might ignite certain feelings in others as well because there will always be people in society who feel the same way but cannot express it by themselves.
But independently, it shouldn't be an artist's purpose or duty to bring about any social change. An artist should primarily focus on addressing subjects, issues, and personal sensibilities to further express himself as freely and truthfully as he can. I firmly believe that art is not just about entertainment and fun; there has to be a deeper layer to it. And it's only in that way can we attain the real purpose of art - to go beyond the known into the realms of the unknown and create something of value from that terrain of unknown.
Art enables people to look a little closer at social issues, other people, everyday objects and the life forms around them. In a way, art helps people to see what is already there but not easily perceived. The artist brings out what cannot be seen or felt easily. An artist can help people reexamine their thinking on the subject in front of them. That said, I do believe that art alone cannot bring about any significant change. At best, it can ignite certain feelings and emotions in others, and then collectively, with the help of other influential institutions, we can move towards any social change.
For ages, art has always played a vital role in uplifting the collective consciousness of any society.
What do you think? I would love to hear it from you guys as well!