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He stands in the pulpit. He has no dramatic props, no elaborate lighting, no sound system, no power point projection. There is no soft background music to stir audience emotions, just one man alone and the words he speaks for two hours with one short break.

His name is Antony Holland. He trained as an actor in London and served for ten years as the vice principal of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He came to Canada in 1957 where he founded the theatre arts program at the King Edward Campus of Vancouver Community College that eventually relocated to Langara College as Studio 58.

Now at the age of 90 he has taken on a new project. He is memorizing the King James Version of the New Testament Gospel of Mark and reciting it wherever he finds a willing audience. Remarkably, it turns out that, being the willing audience is less daunting than you might at first expect.
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The second quality Cameron identifies that will help organizations prosper is an emphasis on engagement.
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The first quality Cameron identifies that will characterize the organization best situated to meet the future with creativity and new life is a willingness to recognize that people are more likely to engage in an organization when the organization offers an experience rather than simply providing a service.
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The fourth challenge Cameron identifies for organizations that compete for peoples’ leisure time is technology.

Technology has emerged as our biggest competitor for leisure time: Gen X-ers spend 20.7 hours of leisure time every week on TV and online combined, the majority TC; Gen Y-ers spend even more—22.8 hours, the majority on line—and growing by leaps and bounds. By the time Net-geners reach their twenties, they will have spent more than 20,000 hours on the Internet and an additional 10,000 hours playing video games, a trend producing a radical redefinition of a cultural market in which computer games now outsell movie and music recordings combined.

Most profoundly, perhaps, technology is altering the very assumptions of consumption: thanks to the internet, we believe we can get anything we want, whenever we want it, customized to our own personal specifications. We can shop at three in the morning or ten o’clock at night, expectations of convenience and personalisation that live performing arts organizations—organizations who depend on set curtain times, specific geographic venues, attendant inconveniences of parking, travel and the like—simply cannot meet.

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Finances and leadership are not the only challenges the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation identified in 2007. Time also emerged as a major factor in shaping the struggles many organizations face today.

the ever-accelerating schedule of our lives is producing a populace characterized by unprecedented exhaustion and over-scheduling, a time in which (according to a Yankelovich poll) half of consumers across all income levels say that lack of time is a bigger problem than lack of money. 42% of men and 55% of women say they are too tired to do the things they want to do and the #1 answer about most eagerly anticipated use of a free evening is no longer socializing, dating or attending a special event but ”a good night’s sleep.”

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In addition to the obvious financial challenges facing many charitably funded organizations today, Cameron identifies leadership as an important challenge.

In 2007, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation launched a series of national conversations in an attempt to listen to people, and discover what were the most critical issues facing their arts organizations. (As an aside: it is interesting that the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation should perceive that listening is the beginning of the way forward in addressing a difficult situation.)

Among the insights that emerged out of these “national conversations,” was an understanding that organizations today are being affected by a radical shift in the way leadership is viewed.
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Thinking about the changes that affect the ability of organizations to thrive in our current cultural climate, Cameron focuses particularly on economic forces. He examines the attempts that have been made to deal with the difficult financial realities of our day.
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Ben Cameron is the Program Director for the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in New York City.

Judging by the google hits for his name, Mr. Cameron spends a lot of time travelling the world. Wherever he goes he delivers a speech in which he speaks about the state of the arts and the struggles arts organizations are having in our current uncertain economic climate.

The most accessible version of this talk was given in February 2010 and recorded as one of the TEDs addresses. It is twelve minutes long and can be viewed at: http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_cameron_tedxyyc.html. A variety of printed versions are also available on the internet. Among other places, he has given this talk at the Illinois Arts Alliance’s 2009 Members’ Meeting in the Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago and at the International Society for the Performing Arts.

It is a powerful talk that raises important issues not only for arts organizations but for all organizations that depend for their existence on the voluntary participation of their constituents. Everyone has to buy food and clothing. Money and time spent on the ballet, or attending the symphony are discretionary spending, easily be abandoned in difficult times.

I am particularly interested in how Cameron’s comments might apply in a church setting. The quotes that follow in this post and in successive posts (possibly twelve) are taken from his comments in Chicago and at the International Society for the Performing Arts. My own tentative reflections on how these thoughts might apply to the church follow Cameron’s comments.
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Recently I received a handwritten letter. Handwritten letters are quite an event in our higtech communication culture. This letter came to me from an Anglican priest in Bolton Est, Quebec. He had read an article I wrote called “Why I Remain An Anglican” (see separate post below) and had called me on the telephone (another quaint practice) in response.

At the end of our conversation, I encouraged him to write down his thoughts and send them to me. This summer I received his reply and received his permission to share it on my blog. I find these words quite touching. I do not know much about John Serjeantson. We have never met. My impression is that he may not be in the first flush of youth. So I find the spirit in which he writes quite touching. His words speak to me of a profound combination of passion for Christian truth and yet openness to different expressions of faith that I believe represents something that is deep and profound in our Anglican way of being Christian.
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Twenty months ago I wrote an article called “Why I Remain An Anglican” which appeared in our Diocesan newpaper. I put it on my blog on January 24, 2009 and invited comments. I am reposting this article and the comments because I recently received a lengthy handwritten response, on paper, in an envelope, with a stamp – who knew people still do that?

I asked the handwriting letter writer if I could share his response on my blog and he granted me permission. I will post his response seperately.
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