Biola University has received a $750,000 grant to establish a new Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts, a significant initiative that will host events, support artists and seek to promote rich thinking about faith and art.

The grant, awarded by Fieldstead and Company in October, will help to launch the center during the 2013–14 school year and fund the center’s operations and activities for its first three years.

“The Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts will allow us to engage in a neglected but historically vital endeavor: thinking
deeply about what it means to be Christians and a Christian institution in the midst of a rapidly changing culture that can be both corrosive and beautiful,” said David P. Nystrom, Biola’s provost and senior vice president.

“This new center will seek to celebrate the role and promise of the arts in understanding our world and in representing a version of truth and beauty to a world that stands in need of a reminder.”

As part of its mission to bring a deeper understanding of the arts and equip Christians to thoughtfully engage culture, the center will host:

  • A yearly arts symposium that brings artists and academics together from around the world for paper presentations, artist lectures, panel discussions and exhibitions;
  • A regional art conference to enable artists to discuss their work, their artistic process and how they can influence culture;
  • Summer workshops for faculty from other Christian colleges, giving Christian academics the chance to discuss how their own schools might contribute to culture through the arts; and
  • An annual artist-in-residence who will create new pieces, interact with students and supervise emerging artists.

Fieldstead and Company, which is funding the center, was founded by Howard F Ahmanson Jr. and his wife, Roberta Green Ahmanson, longtime Biola supporters who guided the university’s Year of the Arts in 2011–12. Roberta Ahmanson served as “visionary in residence” for the yearlong celebration, which included dozens of events, lectures and exhibitions centering around the theme of “Sanctuary and Sacred Space.”

The Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts is the second of three major academic centers that Biola has been planning to establish in recent years; the Biola University Center for Christian Thought opened in February 2012 and a new Center for Christianity, Society and Public Policy is currently in planning stages.