The example of the church as a patron of the arts is an age-old one that will take you back to the Renaissance. In this really great blog on Patheos, Barbara Nicolosi repaints a picture of modern artists as prophets, priests and arbiters of beauty. The fact is, as much as artists should be encouraged to be "out there", the support of a church community behind them can be vital for their health - and when the church gets patronage right, an artist finds a phenomenal, grounding home for their talent to grow in. Boasting an artist's collective and dance school, among many other cornerstone projects, Christchurch-based church Majestic has been home base for a bustling community of musicians, dancers and visual artists. We had a yarn with Majestic Church's Creative director Andre Hanssen to find out about their practical modern patronage.
Majestic’s made a huge commitment to the creative arts - what made you want to make that investment?
It’s been a part of Majestic’s vision for a long time now. We simply believe that the creative sphere of society needs to be engaged. It’s a very powerful pillar that’s influencing this generation and the next.
At Majestic, we put it this way: “Become a part of the conversation” - whether that’s fashion, music, dance, design, film etc.
The proof of art’s power is easy to see; people finding hope, being totally impacted not only by the art produced but by the community from which it comes.
Practically, how does Majestic support the creative arts?
We’ve made a conscious decision to not only support the creative arts, but to use them to engage humanity, We utilise artists as much as we can and we don’t limit 'art' to just the music in our church gatherings.
It’s a focus - we believe in the arts and artists/creatives and encourage them to belong to our arts community Majestic Collective regardless of their beliefs. Our aim is to show love, give hope and inspire faith.
We run an event every month called 'Collective' which is an arts gathering where local, national and international artists talk about their field and inspire the crew.
We help collaboration take place – we’ve made our arts community a self-sufficient place; it’s got everything that everyone needs, including skillsets and resources to help any project. Because there’s such a diverse range of people involved, people can get together for all sorts of projects, from photo shoots for fashion labels to writing music for film to building sets for various shows.
We also run artist showcases every quarter where we see hundreds of people experience not only the talent but also the 'vibe' of our church. We run a dance studio with 100 students currently as well as vocal training with over 40 students. We run our own artist development programme, helping artists develop their sound, work on showmanship, confidence, look and give them some good exposure.
Over the last couple of years in X-Factor, but also across a wide range of talent shows, we’ve seen a huge number of artists with a church background doing well - including some of your crew (Moorhouse, Stevie Tonks) do you think this is a coincidence? What’s your take on it?
There’s no coincidence – the church is one of those incredible platforms where young artists have the opportunity to sing, express, be on a team, work with a band and learn how to deliver music in front of hundreds of people week in and week out - its a breeding ground for talent.
If I could say one thing about our experience so far it would be this: you hear a lot of great artists (singers, songwriters, bands etc) in New Zealand and abroad confess that they got their “start” in the church and would agree that it was a foundation to build from but for whatever reason they’re no longer involved in the church. What we’ve set out to do is almost the opposite; we work with kids that didn't grow up in church, they meet Jesus, discover their God-given talents and we hone those and create opportunites that they wouldn't have otherwise.
How can the church better support creatives?
To be able to support creatives, we need to understand them but also understand that we are all creative made in the image of The Creator.
It takes courage to be creative, so encouragement goes a long way. Supporting the artists in our churches and encouraging their creativity can be incredibly practical;, it looks like turning up to their gigs, buying their music, utilising their gifts in church services and letting them host events that will potentially bring more people into our church environments.
Also, support the artists in your wider community. Go see their shows, know what’s going on, be interested. Wherever you see truth in art celebrate it.
Create an environment that doesn't limit creativity - no idea is wrong.
Just because you don't 'get it' doesn't mean God's not 'in it'. The problem with the obvious is that there is too much of us in obvious. We tell our artists when they perform to fight for something: family, friends, healing and miracles, every time they step on stage it’s always bigger than them.
From your experience, what three things does an artist need the most to succeed?
- Mentoring. People who can encourage them and individuals who can guide them.
- Service. Knowing how to serve humanity. Doing something bigger than you. Being involved in others projects or just helping them out puts everything all back into perspective. (also you gain fans for life).
- Community. It’s very hard to go it alone - if we can create communities that support artists then we’ll see pop culture shift.