I remember being in a conversation with Joel Houston, late one night (it’s always late if you are chatting to Joel) and we were talking about the gentrification of Williamsburg. In fact we were talking about gentrification in general, all these cool neighbourhoods that start off cheap, dingy and dirty. No one really wants to live there so the struggling artists move in. You see they love their craft so much but don’t make enough money from it to live the high life (did you know Van Gogh sold only 2 paintings in his lifetime – wild hey) so they move into those kind of areas and slowly over time they add art, graffiti to the walls, plants to the sidewalk, life to the streets and after a while… the middle class start to like what is happening there and want to move into the neighbourhood.
Slowly the area becomes liveable, the house prices go up, people move in and the artists find they can’t afford to live there any more… they are priced out of the spaces that they made inhabitable. In one neighbourhood the artists painted a declaration on the wall; “ARTISTS STILL LIVE HERE” is a bold declaration and a defiant action.
In 2020 we make the same statement. Regardless of the cost it has taken to remain this year, or the challenges that have come against us, the obstacles that there have been to overcome or the walls we have had to break through; artists still live here. Hillsong Church, under the care of our senior pastors, has a deep desire to awaken and cultivate the creative hearts. We still see a need for a thriving creative community of Christians committed to telling stories of great beauty, of creating photos that move people, songs that stir the spirit, music that lifts eyes heavenward, words that paint pictures and lighting that is otherworldly.
I was reading an article this week by Louis Netter called “The Importance of Art in the Time of Coronavirus” and it stated,
“Of all the necessaries we now feel so keenly aware of, the arts and their contribution to our well-being is evident, and in some ways, central to coronavirus confinement for those of us locked in at home. For some, there are more pressing needs. But momentary joys, even in dire circumstances, often come through the arts and collective expression”
How many of you have been grateful for ‘that book’, ‘that song’, ‘that film’ or ‘that picture’ in this season? Art that has lifted your eyes off the mundane and temporal and made you imagine, or dream or believe or hope again. I know there have been many things for us personally in this season.
And so here is what I know… against all odds in this magazine there are the stories of many artists in our community who have turned challenge into a chance. People who haven’t let this year cost them their voice. Artists who have stirred up their gift, taken a risk, adapted to a new reality or just gotten on with it … and their residence in our communities and in our world not only herald that “artists still live here”… but more importantly that they have found a home for their gift and contribution and a community that believes in them and therefore they proclaim together – “ARTISTS STILL LOVE IT HERE”.
Introducing our very first Artists Still Live Here Magazine
We had a big dream of a little project that could showcase and celebrate the artists and creatives within in our community and I think we’ve seen a beautiful glimpse of what this space could be.
The pages are filled with some of the stories, and art of those that make up our creative community across some of our Hillsong campuses – our writers, poets, photographers, podcasters, florists, artists, designers and creative thinkers.
As you read through the stories, we pray that you’ll been inspired by what a rich global community of people you belong to and that your creativity is stirred.
Artists truly do live here!