Confessions of an arts leader…

Posted on January 21, 2010


What happened in Vegas, shouldn’t stay in Vegas…
I just got back from a retreat in ‘sin city’ last week. It was a gathering of about 25 national creative leaders hosted by the Willow Creek Association and led by one of my mentors, Nancy Beach. The goal was to not only to encourage each other as artist leaders but to share what is happening in the arts movement nationally. This was my second time to join this team and like the first, found it inspiring and refreshing. Here are a few observations from our few days together:

  • You can not underestimate the power of shared experiences. Regardless of the advances in technology and collaboration, nothing can replace good ol’ fashion face-to-face time. I am thankful for the speed of which we can exchange information via the web but the chance to encourage, invest, and inspire in real-time is priceless.
  • As we all shared about positive trends in our own communities, the power of story was number one. The ability to share experiences in a compelling and authentic way is one of the most powerful tools we have as artists. Nothing can deny the power of your story. In a world of too much noise and not enough time, story is the most credible form left in our creative tool box.
  • We also shared the negative components we have seen. A common one was the gravitation towards form over content. With more and more resources available online, it’s easy to imitate rather than originate. It’s easy for videos, music, graphics, etc to start looking or sounding the same- so we have push ourselves to work in the raw materials and create original pieces.
  • Nancy shared the WCA’s new vision statement, the first part says they exist ‘to stir up and to call out artist leaders…’ I love this. I believe we are all called to ‘stir up’ creativity, and ‘call out’ the best from artist within our community. Everyone needs to be led and artists should be on the forefront of leadership.
  • You cannot neglect the matters of the heart. A well ordered life is the best gift you can give this world. So I really appreciated the exercises on the first day that facilitated sharing of our soul-condition. Besides, just being understood is what we all aspire as artists.
  • When alone, it is hard to lead but easier when we are together. The ‘create-on-demand’ world is a relentless and harsh world. Our output often times exceeds our input. A few critical voices seem to overshadow a myriad of praises. We need each other to give balance and reality as we lead in our own communities.

Overall, I had a great time connecting with these artist leaders. I am continually thankful for Nancy Beach and the team who tirelessly champion the arts and artists. My hope and prayer is that I would do the same as I attempt to lead and inspire in my community.