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Creativity: the arts at grassroots level

January 21, 2012

“In all their efforts to achieve the aim of the Four Year Plan, the friends are also asked to give greater attention to the use of the arts, not only for proclamation, but also for the work in expansion and consolidation.  The graphic and performing arts and literature have played, and can play a major role in extending the influence of the Cause.  At the level of folk art, this possibility can be pursued in every part of the world, whether it be in villages, towns or cities.” (From the 1996 Ridvan message written by the Universal House of Justice to the Baha’is of the world, published in The Four Year Plan:  Messages of the Universal House of Justice [Riviera Beach:  Palabra Publications, 1996], p. 37) (Section 8. Promoting the Arts at the Grassroots Level.)

Artistic activity

  • Artistic activity, such as the the multiplication of supplementary items: artistic and literary works (songs, stories) to enhance the Ruhi Institute curriculum, should be allowed to occur naturally at the local grassroot level
  • nurture the emergence of captivating songs from every part of the world in every language, that will impress upon the consciousness of the young the profound concepts enshrined in the Baha’i teachings.
  • creative production of supplementary materials should be an outgrowth of the process of community building gathering momentum in villages and neighbourhoods
  • give expression to patterns of thought and action engendered by Baha’u’llah’s teachings, through artistic and literary works.
  • new elements of culture will evolve
  • there is a potential for the efflorescence of creative thought
  • nurture creativity from the grassroots
  • do not fall inadvertently into prevalent patterns that impose a particular cultural perspective on others
  • do not inundate cultures with materials from a dominate culture
  • do not participate in aggressively promoting cultural products by the dominant culture

“By the same token, new elements of culture will evolve over time as people hailing from every human group, inspired by the Revelation of Baha’u’llah, give expression to patterns of thought and action engendered by His teachings, in part through artistic and literary works. It is with such considerations in mind that we welcome the decision of the Ruhi Institute, in formulating its courses, to leave for the friends to address locally issues related to artistic activity. What we ask at this stage, then, when energies are to be invested in the extension of children’s classes and junior youth groups, is that the multiplication of supplementary items for this purpose be allowed to occur naturally, as an outgrowth of the process of community building gathering momentum in villages and neighbourhoods. We long to see, for instance, the emergence of captivating songs from every part of the world, in every language, that will impress upon the consciousness of the young the profound concepts enshrined in the Baha’i teachings. Yet such an efflorescence of creative thought will fail to materialize, should the friends fall, however inadvertently, into patterns prevalent in the world that give licence to those with financial resources to impose their cultural perspective on others, inundating them with materials and products aggressively promoted. Further, every effort should be made to protect spiritual education from the perils of commercialization. The Ruhi Institute itself has explicitly discouraged the proliferation of products and items that treat its identity as a brand to be marketed. We hope that the friends will respect its diligence in this matter (12 December 2011 – The Universal House of Justice, Further guidance on the implementation of institute courses).”

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