Many moons ago, the city of Brooklyn NY was a run-down place. Rent was cheap. Because the cost of living was so low, a bunch of artists moved in. They started creating art in Brooklyn and making the place beautiful. Brooklyn became trendy.
In fact, Brooklyn became so popular that a whole bunch of middle-class people moved in and the cost of living went up. It rose so high that the artists had to move out again. They could no longer afford to live there. Middle-class totally took over.
Some Aussies visited the city of Brooklyn not too long ago. As they were walking about, taking in the sights of the city, they came across some graffiti scrawled across a wall. The graffiti read:
ARTISTS STILL LIVE HERE
Somewhere amidst the high-end hustle and bustle of that beautiful but expensive city, there lived a remnant of artists. Somehow they had managed to hold on to their place in that city, despite the growing cost of living. They had helped to create that city and they were determined to stay.
This story gets me thinking about the difficult places in life in which we find ourselves. Those of us who seek artistic expression can at times find ourselves penned in on all sides by pressure, by expectations, by rules and by cynicism. We can feel stressed by the demands of others and disillusioned about the industry. We can feel so discouraged by the cost of living that we lose our sense of beauty and artistry in the world.
When I feel penned in, my world feels like it is shrinking. I feel like my ideas and my ministry are growing smaller and failing to thrive. I start to believe that there is no point. Why bother serving God, I might ask, if there is nothing to show for it?
This is the moment when we, as artists, get to stare those negative forces in the face and to stand firm. This is the time when we choose to continue to create and imagine, in spite of the rising cost of living. This is our chance to defy the “middle-class” in our lives who seek to take over. Finding a way to go on, despite odds and opposition and exhaustion, is our way of saying, “Artists Still Live Here.”
Being in the creative ministries, whether it be worship, music, design, art, technical, writing, performing or pastoring, is a taxing endeavour. There are many opportunities to feel rejected and isolated. In those moments, when we are struggling to go on; when we are questioning our ministry and giftings and the life to which God has called us; let us encourage one another with these words, “Artists Still Live Here.”
Have you ever felt discouraged in your artistry or ministry? How do you manage to hang on when the cost of living gets too high? How have you found ways of saying, “Artists Still Live Here”?