Belmont University Launches Creative Arts Collective for Christian Life and Faith

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Belmont University Launches Creative Arts Collective for Christian Life and Faith

March 26, 2024 | by Julia Couch Copeland

Supported by a $32 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., nationwide initiative announces first three projects


Belmont University today launched the Creative Arts Collective for Christian Life and Faith, a major, nationwide initiative. Funded by a $32M grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., the initiative’s mission is to explore and nurture the integral relationship between Christianity and the arts in order to inspire people from diverse contexts to discover and embrace the beauty and wisdom of the Christian story and encounter God through the arts 

Through this effort, Belmont hopes to catalyze an awe-and wonder-filled movement that seeks to energize the use of the arts in communities of faith that represent a broad spectrum of theological traditions from across the United States. The initiative will fund a variety of programming that will create and curate new works of art across multiple media, including sacred and popular music, performing arts, digital animation, sculpture, architecture and more; nurture spiritual life through the use of arts; and cultivate and sustain a national collaborative network of artists, theologians and other leaders.  

The Creative Arts Collective will use three primary strategies to advance its mission: a grant program to commission new works of art and support organizations in their efforts to broaden their reach at the intersections of faith and the arts; convening artists, leaders of arts and community organizations, theologians and others for conversations and shared learning about Christianity and the arts; and storytelling through which the stories of our funded organizations and their communities will be amplified.  

The Creative Arts Collective recognizes the vital roles that the arts and Christian communities can play in helping people develop empathy and understanding across social, generational and cultural divides. This movement especially targets post-COVID challenges faced by young people and invites them to seek healing and belonging through the arts.

"We are focused on harnessing the transcendent power of art to open doors to spirituality and faith that foster connection, reflection and healing,” said Rick Rekedal, executive director of The Creative Arts Collective. He is a proven and award-winning industry veteran in entertainment and the arts whose career included more than two decades with DreamWorks Animation where he worked on projects including “Kung Fu Panda,” How to Train Your Dragon,” “Trolls,” “The Prince of Egypt,” “Saving Private Ryan” and more.   

“Art is core to our humanity. The arts reveal hidden truths and create moments of community and understanding that words often fail to do. We are committed to providing people across the country with opportunities to create new and diverse works of art across mediums and gather in ways that expand our imagination with moments of awe and wonder."

Rick Rekedal

The Creative Arts Collective launched today at an event at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Belmont University. During the event, first-year funded projects were announced, including those listed below. The Creative Arts Collective will work with each grantee to grow and expand their work and its potential reach, with plans to feature them at key events and convenings around the country.   

  • The Choir Room: A transformative choir project that is committed to uniting people from all walks of life through the rich Christian tradition of singing together, demonstrating the collective power of voices in harmony. Created by Grammy Award-winning songwriter, producer and musician Dwan Hill, its purpose is to “bring choir back” and inspire a diverse group of people to unite in song and mission.
  • Requiem for Colour: A wholly original orchestral and choral experience, written and composed by Dr. Jeffery Ames. A highly accomplished conductor, composer and professor, Jeffery Ames'Requiem for Colour is a labor of love that explores and honors the experiences of generations of Black people and their descendants. Ames' Requiem is a groundbreaking work combining music, literature and visual art, blending genres from classical to R&B, oration to spoken word. Informed by his own Christian faith and the traditions of gospel roots, Ames has created a work that spans generations in reckoning with our current societal vices of racism and injustice.
  • 100 Fold Studio: A nonprofit architecture organization dedicated to developing communities through design. This effort uses architecture to address basic human needs while inviting people into a greater story of beauty, redemption and flourishing. The grant will support the Summer Studio program, which helps interested architecture students explore how their Christian faith can inform and shape careers in architecture.

"Establishing the Creative Arts Collective at Belmont University represents a convergence of faith, art and education, pillars upon which Belmont stands,” said University President Dr. Greg Jones. “Through this groundbreaking initiative, we are committed to weaving a fabric of communal and spiritual engagement, encouraging individuals from across the country to explore and express the diversity of traditions within the Christian faith through the universal language of art. We are deeply grateful for the support of Lilly Endowment, which has breathed life into this meaningful vision.”

To learn more about the initiative and sign up to receive updates about projects, events and funding opportunities visit

Creative Arts Collective for Christian Life and Faith