Since the time of Christ, the Christian church has had a profound influence on the arts in Western Civilization. This influence was perhaps never greater than in 15th - 17th century Europe. Evidence of Christianity’s effect on the music of that day can be seen in the works of leading composers J. S. Bach (1685-1750) and G. F. Handel (1685-1759). Their compositional contributions were dominated by religious themes and content and in many ways set the standard for excellence in their day. Examples of this can be seen in Bach’s ST. JOHN PASSION and MASS IN B MINOR and in Handel’s MESSIAH, SAUL and JUDAS MACCABEUS.
Not only did the 15-17th century Christian church employ the leading musicians of the day, it also dominated, in theme and patronage, much of the rest of the fine arts field. This effect can be found in the literary works of John Donne (1572-1631), John Milton (1608-1674) and John Bunyan (1628-1688), as well as in the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) and St. Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641).
In the 21st century, the relationship between fine arts and the church is much different. No longer is the church the influential leader it once was in the fine arts. Instead; 1) the consumer, not the church, is now the primary patron of music, 2) the leading composers of today are not church musicians, and, 3) Christianity is no longer the dominant topic and focus of the arts.
What happened? How did the church lose its influence in the arts? More importantly, what can the church do to reclaim its profound influence in the fine arts world? Regardless of how you answer these questions, the truth is, the church should be the leader, not only in the fine arts, but in every segment of society. Was not this leadership role defined by Christ when He said, "You are the light of the world...the salt of the earth?”
If then, the Christian church is to be the leader in the fine arts and in all of society, it must work hard to establish itself as such. One of the best ways for the church to accomplish this is through the implementation of a fine arts academy.
A fine arts academy is a ministry of the local church which provides excellent training in the arts to individuals of varying ages and levels of talent, by qualified instructors. The fine arts academy is financially self-supporting and is administrated by a coordinator.
As you attempt to share your vision for starting a fine arts academy in your church, it is important for you to know the benefits of having such a program in your church. The benefits of a well-organized, properly functioning fine arts academy are:
1) To be an outreach tool for your church. Your academy has the potential to bring many people into your facility that may not otherwise enter. The academy will also facilitate relationships between people in your community and people in your church. The academy can shine a positive light on your church in the community, making your church attractive to potential converts and members.
2) To aid in the development of students in the areas of self-esteem, social interaction, personality, skill and accomplishment.
3) To provide quality training for future church musicians: pianists, organists, choir members, instrumentalists, worship leaders, and more.
4) To raise fine arts awareness and excellence in the community, placing the church in an influential leadership role.
HOW TO START A FINE ARTS ACADEMY IN YOUR CHURCH by John Parker (Parker Publications, Inc., 2005) discusses these issues and many others including, but not limited to:
FINDING ROOMS FOR TEACHING
FINDING AND HIRING A COORDINATOR
FINDING AND HIRING TEACHERS
WHAT DISCIPLINES TO OFFER
STUDENTS & SCHEDULING
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
INSURANCE AND LIABILITY
SECURITY AND SAFETY
FINANCES AND ACCOUNTING
CURRICULUM & RESOURCES
RECITALS, FESTIVALS AND PERFORMANCES
Interested in learning more? Check out "How To Start A Fine Arts Academy In Your Church" by John Parker. The book features a complete kit that will not only help you understand how to successfully implement a fine arts academy, but will also provide all the reproducible documents you need to get started including instructor logs, registration forms, and a wide variety of other documents. Click Here to learn more.