Can we afford to follow our hearts?
Believe it or not, Theatreland is in the middle of an economic upturn. Figures released over the summer by the Society of London Theatres show that during 2009 box office sales increased by 7.6%, with record attendances of more than 14 million people. To read this news amid a financial recession is really heartening and goes some way in proving the value placed on the arts in our culture.
However, at the same time of reading I recalled another statistic: 80% of actors are out of work at any one time; recession or not. So how do artists reconcile these two facts of life - coping with success in some quarters and disappointment in others?
During careers the terrain can be rough and smooth, with highs and lows, and yet despite the scenery our call is irrevocable; our art is meant to be the constant. I wonder then as Christians, should we always be able to afford to follow our heart? Do we need to keep good stewardship skills alongside excellent artistic ones? Or will God sustain us with manna from heaven during our times of famine?
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Challenging ConsumerismTopic suggested by Jonathan Evens
Many city churches and cathedrals now regularly associate with artists by holding exhibitions, and often seek to make the church look like a gallery by using display panels to form 'white cubes' of gallery space. Such exhibitions are important as they highlight the extent to which many artists engage with the Christian faith, its narratives and imagery, and they value the opportunities that churches can provide for their work.
However, if the art works were themselves to be integrated into these spaces, would that not enable the art to more readily enhance the ongoing worship life of the church? Would it not also demonstrate the value of commissioning works of art, thus contributing to the ongoing accrual of art which has occurred in most churches over the ages?
Perhaps it may be that these exhibitions adopt more radical models. For example, drawing on the experience of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland and its engagement with the idea of 'Sacrum' in Polish Art during the 1980s. There, martial law forced virtually the entire artistic community to boycott the official exhibition space and hold meetings, shows and exhibitions in churches, which were the only places that found approval among independent artistic and intellectual groups.
The UK's cultural and political situation is clearly very different. But if we, for example, understand consumerism to be the major force of our culture and one in which the contemporary art establishment is implicated, then could churches, instead of simply recreating gallery space, work to form a more radical alternative to consumerist practices by working with artists who themselves challenge consumerism?
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Subscription news versus 'free' view
The effects of the internet and other digital platforms that have beset the music industry for a decade are slowly drifting into the media arena. Newspaper websites particularly are set to change. What were free online news titles are to become subscriber options or pay per article in an effort to stave off their decline in revenue, boosting profits and ultimately keeping people in work.
As someone who works in the music business I like to think I am a card carrying ambassador of paying for music. I can readily see the link between quality product and price.
But can the same be said for the news? Is there a difference between buying a newspaper and reading it temporarily on a screen? Should content creators draw a line between allowing their work to be viewed for free and charging per download to own a copy? As professionals, does our integrity come into question when we make a choice between accessing free content on the web, or should we only use sites where we have made a financial contribution? And could paying to read websites be the future gauge of truth on the net, among an ever increasing swell of erroneous writings?
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