Society will always have a want for the creatives, but given their sky high rate of unemployment, getting the least employable major to the tune of astronomical tuition rates is something that many people just can't afford to do. How many musicians and artists end up getting "real jobs" to finance their passion when their passion cannot finance them? From the prospective student corner of society, it's just becoming harder to justify the costs and risks, which is indeed sad.
All forms of art are a pure expression of thought. Art is a creative process that stimulates higher level thought process and provides enrichment in the form of entertainment. Entertainment is multi-billion, maybe multi-trillion dollar industry and the creative arts will keep it that way. It doesn't have to be practical for it to help our society.
It is completely absurd that we consider education of any kind a "luxury". A degree in creative arts is no better or worse than a degree in sciences, technology, finances, liberal arts, journalism, etc. Education of any variety is far too expensive no matter what degree is being pursued, and in my opinion it should be a right and a requirement for all persons no matter their level of income.
Society needs individuals to create and perform art. Art provides us with an outlet to express ourselves and allow ourselves to be heard. While these individuals may not always make it in the creative arts, we should not limit their potential and force them to stop following their dreams. We must protect their freedom of choice and expression.
Art is a necessary component of life as it helps people appreciate the beauty of their surroundings and escape day-to-day drudgery. Art in the form of plays, movies and books also help us reflect on society and get a better understanding of our place in the universe. That is not a luxury. That is a necessity in order for us to be analytical and critical citizens aware of our surroundings.
I graduated with an English degree and afforded it just fine. I learned plenty from my classes and have the ever-valuable piece of paper that will help me get a good job. Sure, it may not pay as well as a law degree or something to that effect, but it's what I want to do. Although, given the spread of the Internet, it's getting close to the point where there are new options. We'll see in a few years.