The arts and creativity are an excellent means to envision the future. Architects make plans and models of proposed structures, or storyboard artists sketch the scenes of a film well before their subjects exist. Its not uncommon for art to be recognized as having a prophetic quality, revealing or relating to the future. (And a growing number of Christ-following artists are exploring the prophetic potential of art.)
Evisioning How Things Ought to Be
Harrison Center, an urban arts organization in Indianapolis, decided to see if the arts and creativity could help a struggling urban neighborhood envision what it could be like to transform into a thriving environment. They organized PreEnact Indy, (indicating an acting out of the future as opposed to re-creating the past, as in a "reenactment") a sort of live theater and street festival covering few blocks in the center of the neighborhood. The Harrison was careful to honor and illustrate the past of the neighborhood and its inhabitants along with envisioning the future.
They gathered artists and craftsman to design and build facades and stages for new imagined neighborhood gathering places like the Middle of the Road Cafe, and Brother Nature's Market. The built a park with oversized board games, an outdoor roller skating rink, a storytelling stage, and new store fronts for imagined businesses. All this was infused with food and live music and art.
From an interview in NUVO Newsweekly:
“What I want people to do when they come here is not just enjoy good music or eat good food or purchase something,” says Joanna Beatty Taft, executive director for the Harrison Center, which is producing PreEnact for the second year in a row.
“I want them to try on being in this pre-enacted village that is a neighborhood the way it ought to be, [with] affordable housing and market housing and quality education for all, and with diverse artists and diverse leaders,” she says. “That’s what we want people to experience so that when we leave, they can honor the history of their neighborhood; they can be inclusive in their neighborhood.”
Applications for Church Arts Ministry
Though PreEnact was an ambitious undertaking, its easy to imagine how this idea--a variation of the biblical principal of envisioned faith or "calling things that are not as though they are" (Romans 4:17)-- could be scaled down and used in church arts ministry.
It could be as simple as interacting with people one-on-one, talking about their life and future then offering artistic response as a prayer--spontaneous drawing or painting or dance or song or poetry or theater--and a way to spark their faith. This kind of interaction and attention is a surefire way to help people feel known and loved. And they can take that "PreEnacted prayer" with them--even dance, song, poetry, and theater, through the miracle of cell phone recording--and look at it over and over. This is similar to the concept of Personal Prayer Art (PPA), which is detailed in Creative Church Handbook and we'll cover in an upcoming post.
In what ways could you engage a PreEnact model to minister and encourage faith in your congregation and community? Contribute your thoughts below or share a story at artsideas (at) TheNewR.org
Here are some photos from the event: