Associate Director of Worship Arts
Associate Director of Worship Arts
You will notice how his advice ties in with the suggestions I received from many other sources.
PLF: Every year we do a project called "The Artist Showcase." Artists are invited to create a new work around a given theme. This last year our theme was "Love Where You Live." The types of works range from visual art, music, dance, and spoken word. The event centers around a one night gallery showing and performance. The visual works stay up through Sunday services.
IA: Who initiated the project, the church or the artist?
PLF: The project is initiated by our worship arts staff. None of us are visual artists, but we feel the visual arts are an important and often underrepresented medium in our churches, so we've worked to bring them to the forefront. All of us are songwriters, so the music side comes more naturally to us.
IA: How much creative control did the church have over the project?
PLF: We give all creative control to the artists. Meaning they do their work entirely on their own. However, we do have a jury process where we ask to see the work ahead of time and not everyone is guaranteed a spot in the show. We rarely turn people away though. We also help with the hanging of the works to ensure that everything hangs well together in our space. In the case of music we did spend some time with individual songwriters to coach them through some potentially weak parts of their composition. We also put together a house band to accompany the artists on their songs.
IA: How was the show used; in a worship service, in the church building, or in some other way? Did the pastor announce or discuss it from the pulpit; did he incorporate its themes into his sermon?
PLF: The theme "Love Where You Live" was picked because it a big theme that we've used in our teaching all year long. So there was a strong connection to the pulpit in that way. It was also talked about and announced from up front. We've found it's important for the speaking pastor to endorse the event and cast some vision.
IA: Were the artists paid for their pieces or performances? If so, just for time/materials, or the going sale value of the work?
PLF: The artists are not paid for this event. It's entirely volunteer.
IA: What advice would you give to artists seeking church commissions?
PLF: I'm not sure I have any advice here. Perhaps maintain a servant heart. If you can develop an attitude of wanting to serve the church and what the church needs or desire that will go a long way. Also, start with your home church. That's going to be the most natural connection.
IA: What advice would you give to churches looking to work with artists?
PLF: I would encourage churches to give artists lots of time. Often artists work better if they've got the time to really develop their work. I would also encourage churches to have a compelling theology of the arts. Meaning they should take the time to discuss and study why it's important and what value it has to a community of Christ followers and to people's spiritual lives. I would encourage churches to remain open to artists. Often times artist feel as though they're not welcome in church. Perhaps the biggest thing is that I would encourage churches to no simply think about what artists can "do" for them. How can they "use" the artists. Rather I would encourage churches to think about how they can disciple and develop artists, how they can create a creating environment for artists to flourish.