The Responsibility of Patrons of the Arts

"As the people of God, we should subscribe to authentic arts that lead us to God through the appreciation of beauty, harmony, goodness, truth and love, respect, unity and the transcendent,"
 Madonna. Credit: Denis Makarenko via www.shutterstock.com

Madonna. Credit: Denis Makarenko via www.shutterstock.com

I write quite a bit about artists and the role of art, but what about patrons? By patrons I mean anyone who patronizes the arts in all its wonderful manifestations be it paintings, novels, movies, television, or music concerts.

Every time we choose a painting to display in our home, a book to read, a television show or movie to watch or even a concert to attend, we are casting a vote, a vote that by necessity excludes everything else. The arts that we patronize reflect the type of art and culture that we as a society want to promote and encourage.

Which brings us to Archbishop William Goh of Singapore. In 2016 the entertainer Madonna was scheduled to bring her tour to Singapore, and the archbishop had something to say about it.

Read the article at Catholic News Agency here.

The Archbishop suggested that "Singapore's music fans can do better than Madonna," and offered a contrasting view of the arts and the world.

"As the people of God, we should subscribe to authentic arts that lead us to God through the appreciation of beauty, harmony, goodness, truth and love, respect, unity and the transcendent,"

In the end, Madonna's concert omitted the songs "Devil Pray" and "Holy Water," in which "scantily-clad dancers wear(ing) nuns' habits while dancing on cross-shaped stripper poles." Still, there was plenty of content, from profanity to topless dancers, to earn the performance a rare R18 rating by Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA).

But the entire event and the controversy surrounding it brings up a point about the arts and those who patronize them.

The Archbishop is absolutely correct here. The arts should be used to bring people closer to God, not to appeal to our baser natures and not even to make an "artistic statement."

The state of "Christian art" is frequently, and not without reason, criticized as being substandard but the solution is simple. If you want art that "leads to God through the appreciation of beauty, harmony, goodness, truth and love, respect, unity and the transcendent," then patronize that type of art. If you have the means, commission that type of art.

If we really wish to change the world and restore the arts to their proper role of turning hearts and minds to God, then we need to start showing that desire by what we patronize.

this article originally appeared at www.DeaconLawrence.org

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Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university

Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org