Vision Statement: Our desire is to see the power of the Gospel displayed through the creativity of the arts,
and to graduate students from our classes who fully understand how to honor Christ
through pursuing excellence in the arts.
“Getting to the heart of the matter….”
“Deep down in the depths of your soul…”
These phrases may generate feelings of safety and love when you think of someone caring enough to want to know the “real you’; and for others they may cause anxiety or fear of vulnerability at the prospect of truly being “seen”, because you’re not sure if the hearers will like what they learn about you. But regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, the answers to these questions are indeed what make you, you. It is what sets you apart from others. Each of us is a unique creation of God, intentionally formed to play our part in the time and place in which we live. We each also have a unique worldview, formed by various factors as we grow from childhood into adulthood. That worldview colors almost every decision we make; from how we eat to where we live, to where we spend our time and money, and even the types of activities in which we value enough to participate in. Basically, your worldview determines what is important to you.
Individuals are not the only place we can find the “heart and soul” of something. Whenever people gather for any purpose: to worship, to play, to form a business, etc, they have a common vision, goal, and mission. Those things together establish the “heart and soul” of the group, which they market and make known, hoping to draw others who share their vision. Most of us don’t put a lot of thought into it, but we are constantly evaluating these things as we make decisions: Is it convenient? Is it affordable? Are there like-minded people there? Is it welcoming of me/my family and who we are? These, as well as many, many other checkboxes, we are either consciously or subconsciously evaluating daily.
Let’s look at a specific group of people: Alamance Fine Arts Academy. Simply by reading our name you know a little bit about us: we are local to Alamance County; we are a Fine Arts institution (theatre, visual art, and dance), and we are an Academy, which means we offer instruction. But there are multiple places in Alamance County to choose from if you are interested in pursuing the arts, so what sets us apart? What is the “heart and soul” of AFAA?
Our tagline is a good place to start: “Inspiring excellence | Cultivating Worship”. Though ‘cultivating worship” is listed second, it truly is our primary goal, as can be seen in our vision statement written out at the beginning of this post. Bringing glory to the Lord Jesus Christ through teaching students to worship Him with their art form is why we exist as a company. In every stroke of the paint brush; every play we stage; every dance we perform, we pray that the students as well as the audience sees the hand of the Lord before them, and are drawn to worship Him in return. Our songs in the dance classes are chosen with purpose; even the warm-up songs. Every lyric heard will have an edifying quality, even if it’s not from the Christian music genre. Every costume chosen will be evaluated on whether it is appropriate to be worn. Every play and art project will be considered based on what redeeming qualities are put forth. And the standard against which all of those decisions are made is making Christ known.
The second item in our tagline is ‘inspiring excellence”. In our dance program, we do not have a competition team. There is nothing wrong with competition teams; but since we are an academy, we choose to devote that time to the instruction in technique in the various genres. In theatre, the students are taught all aspects of theatre, both on and off the stage; from lighting and sound, to costuming, make up, and props, from tech crew to performing center stage with training in thoughtful blocking, voice projection, action and reaction, improv, etc. With visual art instruction comes the introduction to a variety of mediums as well as snippets of art history and art theory as well. In all these areas we also have monthly Bible verses anchoring us to the reason we strive for excellence in the first place: to do all things for the glory of God.
Lastly, our students and their families round out the heart and soul of AFAA. Never has this stood out more than the second week of March 2020. COVID was rearing its ugly head, and along with all other businesses, we put a plan in place to try to stay in operation while limiting exposure to the virus. We drastically scaled back the number of people in the studio. As the director wrote the following week as he and his wife announced our closure, walking the halls of the studio simply wasn’t the same without our families there. We love having parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends visit and socialize in the halls while they wait for their students. We love the low rumble of students interacting with each other between classes. We love how students come early and stay late just to be together. And the silence that filled the halls during that initial week before we shut down made it clear that part of our heart and soul was missing; our families.
Our God, our desire for excellence in instruction, and our families; those encompass the heart and soul of AFAA. Our prayer is that we are able to experience those again this fall, as we have dearly missed walking them out together!