Our Mission

We believe that as image-bearers of a creative God, we ought to create high quality art. At Forefront, we equip Christian artists to make excellent art in the context of authentic faith. We do this by organizing festivals where talented artists perform and display their work, thoughtful speakers discuss the convergence of faith and art, and attendees connect with fellow artists — mobilizing a community of creators who are excited and equipped to glorify God by making excellent art.

Frequently Asked Questions

General

Forefront is an organized movement that encourages Christian artists to make excellent art. We believe that making innovative, high quality art is the best way Christian artists can glorify God and impact the world.
In recent past, Christian artists have taken a back seat in the arts world. This happened for a variety of reasons. Some Christians turned away from the arts because they felt the arts were too secular — a lost cause. Some tried to construct a strong sacred/secular divide, creating art that was explicitly laced with Christian messages, which often alienated unbelievers from the start. Others simply didn’t have a strong artistic vision, so they ended up creating work that was very derivative of secular artists, which cemented society’s impression that secular artists lead, and Christian artists follow (poorly) or leave entirely. Simply put, Christians haven’t been quite sure how to engage with the arts world today, so they (and their art and beliefs) are not taken seriously. We believe there is a way for Christians to impact the arts world — without compromising the integrity of their faith. We believe that Christians can and should be at the forefront of the arts. That’s why this movement is called Forefront.
At Forefront, we:

  • Host events where talented artists perform and display their work, thoughtful speakers discuss the convergence of faith and art, and attendees connect with fellow artists
  • Facilitate an online network that allows Christian artists to easily search for, discover, and communicate with one another, allowing them to quickly find collaborators for their next project
  • Run a blog that features thought leadership about faith and art
Absolutely. God intentionally made things that were both useful and beautiful (Genesis 2:9), and everything that He made was good (Genesis 1:31) — everything was high quality and correctly suited to its purpose. God made man in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27), and we are to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1). Like God, we ought to create things that are useful (the work of the artisan) and beautiful (the work of the artist). The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 makes it clear we are to use our abilities for the good of the Kingdom of God, not squandering them or simply maintaining the status quo. Paul says in Romans 12:6, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.” It’s clear that those of us gifted with artistic abilities have an obligation to create art, and create it to the very best of our ability. Those of us who do not possess artistic gifts ought to support those who do.
We’re not down on Christian artists as a whole. We think there are some Christian artists who consistently produce amazing, innovative work, and there are others who consistently produce mediocre, derivative work. But in terms of general trends, we think that art made by Christians hit a low point in the late 1990s and 2000s. Much of the music and movies that Christians produced was cheesy, shallow, or too derivative of secular work. Unfortunately, even as some Christian artists have since bucked this trend and created great art, the artistic community has largely maintained its impression from the late 90s and 00s — namely, that Christian art sucks. If Christians are once again going to impact the world with art, we need to reverse the downward trend by creating incredibly high quality art that moves people deeply and makes them wonder why we do what we do — what we have that drives us to communicate such truth and beauty. Maybe Christians could actually lead the way in the arts — once again starting art movements that shake and shape the world.
We don’t think the term “Christian” can or ought to be discarded, for these reasons:

  1. Acts 11:26 says that “in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” So ‘Christian’ is a term that dates all the way back to 42 A.D. — and it’s been used by Christ’s followers ever since. Terms and practices that have lasted two thousand years, especially those with basis in Scripture, ought not to be lightly discarded.
  2. The term “Christian” arises from the name of Christ Himself, so to discard or downplay the term would ultimately downplay the name of Christ as well.
  3. Some Christ-followers want to discard the term “Christian” because they want to disassociate themselves with certain overtly hypocritical, judgmental people who call themselves Christians. But let’s face it: there have always been overtly sinful, hypocritical, and judgmental people who claim to be Christians. Changing the term we use won’t stop that from happening again under the umbrella of the hypothetical new term.
  4. There have been countless deeds of kindness, hospitality, generosity, and selflessness that have marked Christianity since its inception, performed by the true followers of Christ. By discarding the term “Christian,” in trying to disassociate ourselves from “bad Christians,” we would also be disassociating ourselves from “true Christians.” This would be among the most tragic examples of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
  5. Some Christ-followers want to discard the term “Christian” because Christians have a poor reputation in the arts — Christians aren’t respected. But we ought to ask ourselves why Christians aren’t respected. If it’s because of our beliefs, discarding our name won’t help unless we also discard our beliefs — which of course we cannot do. If it’s because of our art, the obvious solution is not to discard our name (and build a new facade) but rather to make better art. And that’s what Forefront is all about.

In conclusion, we don’t have the hubris or audacity to seek to change what the followers of Christ have called themselves for two thousand years. The term isn’t the problem — we are. If we change ourselves (and our art), many of our perceived problems with the term will fade away. The problems that won’t fade away are the same kinds of problems that Christ Himself had, and his followers had and always will have — the problems that are inherent in being citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Forefront is run by Nate Mancini and Richard Christman.

Nate Mancini is a professional Video Producer and amateur film director from Rochester, NY. He is a writer/director of the 2015 short film Pastime and the 2013 feature film Asleep in a Storm. He co-founded Forefront in 2015, organizing the first Forefront Festival in Pittsburgh, PA. He works full-time as the Video Producer for EarthLink, a nationwide managed network services company.

Richard Christman is a published photographer and mixed media artist from Upstate New York. Since graduating Grove City College in May of 2014, he has paid the bills of his fledgling graduate education in Rochester by camera — taking portraits, marketing images, and shooting narrative video. His community-building fine art photography series have been featured in Pittsburgh and Rochester area publications, as well as in the online community “Explore Rochester,” which uses social media to visually and physically connect creatives and entrepreneurs in the revitalizing metro area. You can see a feed of that work here. Richard hopes to publish a book of the best of this work in the future. Once he receives his Masters of Education in the fall of 2016, he intends to pursue a position teaching English and Drama, while continuing his commercial and fine-art photography career on summers off.

Forefront is an organized movement, but it is not yet an official non-profit. We plan to convert it to an official non-profit organization by the end of 2017. We believe it will help Forefront to serve Christian artists even better than it does today.

Events

We typically run a conference+festival event once every 18 months. We are considering running them more frequently if there is significant interest. Click here to tell us how often you’d like to see events happen!
The next Forefront conference+festival is coming up on April 29, 2017! Click here to learn more or get tickets.
Yes! Tickets are now available for Forefront Conference+Festival 2017. You can purchase them online right here.

Network

The Forefront Artist Network is an online system where Christian artists can set up profiles, search for and find one another based on a variety of attributes, and private message one another. It’s the easiest way to quickly find collaborators for your next creative project. Click here to join!
By joining the network, you gain the following benefits:

  • Access to the Forefront database of Christian artists, and easily search for people based on a variety of attributes
  • The ability to securely private message other Christian artists to discuss collaborating on creative projects
  • Exclusive access to videos of many of the major talks and performances from past Forefront events

Click here to join now!

To join the Forefront Artist Network, we ask you to profess that you are (or intend to become) a creator of some form of art, or would like to contribute your talents to the arts in some way. We define “art” broadly; your art could be written, audio, visual, physical, etc. Your art doesn’t need to be your full-time job — it just needs to something you care about enough to be involved in an artist network. If you’re still not sure if you “qualify,” feel free to contact us.
The Forefront Artist Network is intended to be a place where Christian artists can easily find and connect with one another. Here is why it is just for Christians:

  • We believe it is good to collaborate with all kinds of people, not just Christians. However, there is a special bond that Christians share in that they have the same motivation/foundation behind their creativity. As such, it can often be beneficial to partner with other Christian(s) for certain roles in your passion projects, such as leadership roles that set the tone or direction of the project. This network allows you to seek out fellow believers that also have the skills and talents you need to take your project to the next level.
  • There are lots of places to connect with people in general — we all know about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat. But the sheer scale of those platforms and variety of users makes it difficult to find fellow artists in your area, much less Christian artists. We believe this platform will help creators to find like-minded collaborators much more easily than traditional social networks.
  • Sometimes a certain level of exclusivity helps breed community. Think of a college campus: it’s overwhelming to try to find like-minded people by examining the entire student body. But as soon as you start segmenting into smaller groups based on interests or major, it’s far easier to make friends. Similarly, the Forefront Artist Network makes it easier to find collaborators by only admitting Christians who are active or interested in the arts.

Click here to join now!

We do not require you to sign a statement of faith before joining the Forefront Artist Network. Rather, we simply ask that you check a box professing you are a Christian. Being a Christian means you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and have dedicated your life to following Him. If you’d like further clarification on this point, feel free to contact us.

Getting Involved

Yes, we love to receive art submissions for Forefront Festivals. To submit your art for inclusion in the next festival, just head over to the Get Involved page and fill out the form. We’ll get back to you ASAP!
Certainly! You can send us an entry you’ve already written, or you can submit a brief synopsis of an entry you’d like to write. Just head over to the Get Involved page and fill out the form — we’ll review your entry or idea ASAP.
We’re honored that you’re interested in being a part of Forefront, and we’d love to consider bringing you on board the team. Please fill out the form on the Get Involved page, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!