The annual European Seminar which began in 1981 thus grew over the years from a specifically music-based forum into a meeting place for people working in many creative fields. The creativity engendered during these seminar weeks began to have year long implications: cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary projects were initiated, friendships and working relationships were established and grew. New networks of cooperation were fostered, magazines and newsletters were published *8). Christian Artists had in effect become a ‘movement’ and finally the need for a more permanent structure emerged. Thus on January 1, 1990 the Association of Christian Artists came into being, it’s Covenant (or foundation) being based on Dutch law as the headquarters of the organisation has always been in Rotterdam. The Association is directed by a legal board, consisting of representatives from the original organisation, the Council which actually organises the annual Seminar and one representative each from the fields of music, corporal art (dance, theatre, etc.) and the visual arts.
The goals of the Association are numerous but include:
1.promoting fellowship, unity, understanding and cooperation
2.encouraging, challenging and stimulating the improvement of artistic skills
3.producing publications and establishing data-bases and networks – ‘the voice of the movement’ – to act as a link for regional and national groups
4.being international – Europe needs to hear what this group is saying
5.acting as a Union which speaks for it’s own interests, when Christian artists face intolerance or unemployment
The Association quickly became an ‘umbrella’ for over a hundred member organizations, ranging from the cultural division of Solidarity in Poland to DAKAB, the section for art and training of the Christian Labour Movement in Belgium, from music production companies like Séphora in France to Rosa in the Czech Republic. It also embraces longstanding Christian organizations such as Youth for Christ and Youth with a Mission and the YMCA in Norway.
By 1992 with over 4,000 affiliated members, the Association had become the fastest growing member of the Christian Trade Labour Union in Holland and by acting as a trade union new doors were opened to it’s influence, e.g. it is a member of the European committee which has been studying and preparing EU ‘cultural’ policy and has been consulted regarding cultural policy for the Dutch Christian Democratic Party. The Association is also recognised by the World Confederation of Labour.
Out of the Association’s new areas of influence came the next major development in the movement’s history, that of an annual symposium beginning in 1991. The Board stated in a letter to all members of the Association that:… it became very clear that, besides stimulating the development of the artist (his skills and personal life), we had to start thinking about his living and working conditions: how he worked, his social status, his problems, which were sometimes the result of a political decision, etc. We became aware of the great need to study the political and social dimensions in which artists live and have to function.