Interfaith and The Arts


The arts have always been a powerful medium for bringing about more understanding, respect, and opening the hearts of people from diverse cultures. The arts may include: music, song, theatre, poetry, film, multimedia, dance, visual arts and many other forms.

When we admire an artwork, a performance or any artistic accomplishment, not only do we increase our understanding but we also increase our respect for the peoples and the cultures, which produced them.

Here are some reflections about the role of the arts from members of the Arts and Culture Committee, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Melbourne 2009.

Rev. Helen Summers
Interfaith Minister
The Interfaith Centre of Melbourne

“Art has always communicated at levels that words rarely can, especially across languages and cultures. Art knows no boundaries and can affect lives as well as understandings.”

Sr. Rosemary Crumlin, Sister of Mercy,
Curator, Images of Religion in Australian Art

‘To the arts belongs a common language that moves beyond words. I invite you to the artistic and spiritual beauty of the 7th century Muslim scholar and poet, Jalal Al-Din Rumi:

This is how it always is
When I finish a poem.
A great silence overcomes me.
And I wonder why I ever thought
To use language

“It is the silence, the intangible, the space [in which] we learn to share.”

Nur Shkembi
Arts Officer, The Islamic Council of Victoria

“All great spiritual traditions have a suspicion of talk and an exultation of art in praise of the divine, the great integrity, the ultimate dimension, God, or simply, the Allness of things. It should not be a choice between the two, but a balance of both, and balance implies some equality.”

Ian Roberts
Former Director, Melbourne International Arts Festival

“It is quite difficult to express and to evoke the spirit verbally. Music and the visual arts are powerful vehicles to convey the metaphysical spirit. Through the plastic arts artists express their experiences of the world imaginatively, personally and symbolically. They gift the viewer with a glimpse into their souls. They also challenge the viewer to enter their private world to contemplate the artist’s creation and their own responses. Engagement in the visual arts is a conversation, a silent conversation about values, fears, love, the beauty and ugliness of the world in which we all live and the belief systems that underpin us all as individuals and as community members.”

Dr Helen Light AM
Former Director, The Jewish Museum of Australia

You can read more about Interfaith and The Arts here.