Revd Canon Rod Garner in Holy Trinity Church

Revd Canon Rod Garner in Holy Trinity Church

Trinity Arts – a creative space to explore life

It was the height of the swinging 60s. The miniskirt was born, the Beatles film Help! debuted in London, Thunderbirds aired on TV, and Winston Churchill died, signalling the end of an era of times gone by. The world had changed. It was 1965 and it was against this backdrop that Holy Trinity Curate Roger Wikeley set up Trinity Festival (now Arts).

From Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions?’ to a college fashion show – where the only condition was that there would be no topless models – Trinity Arts pushed the boundaries. What may have started as a music arm of an iconic church with a wonderful organ and a grand musical tradition, has become an Arts Festival encompassing all the arts, and attracting new, younger, audiences through the prestigious Southport Young Musician competition.

One of Trinity Arts’ most fervent supporters, the Revd Canon Dr Rod Garner, has been involved for over 20 years, since he took up post as vicar of Holy Trinity Church. As he retires in a few weeks, he reflects on the festival since his involvement…

The arts is vital to life

Trinity Arts is a celebration, an affirmation, of the creative arts. Music has always been central to the festival but that’s developed over the years. When my wife Christine resurrected the Art Exhibition it became a prominent part of the programme. In the many years since it’s been going we have seen around 300- 350 exhibits over the weekend each year, including paintings, sculpture and photography. Now, in the last two to three years there’s been a major upping of the game for Trinity Arts thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. There’s been a 50 per cent increase in footfall to see activities.

A culture without the arts is impoverished. As a minister I see the arts as vital to life, part of human flourishing. The Bible – John 10.10 – says, ‘I have come that we might have life and have it more abundantly’.

God saw everything he had made was good. Human beings are born to flourish, and part of being religious is helping people to become more like the human image of God revealed in Christ.

The arts opens people’e eyes

Creative arts are the media through which we see what it means to be human – to become better, more imaginative, more kind, more aware, more enlightened. The arts opens people’s eyes to things never thought or dreamt of, often in a better way than religion can.

What it is to be human is up for debate and Trinity Arts is a creative space in which to explore what being human means. Art addresses religious issues – why we’re here, what should we hope for – and sometimes art answers these questions better than much conventional religion.

When David Bowie died two years ago, we opened up the church and a large number of people came to remember him.  Most were not connected with Trinity. Some churchgoers may have been doubtful about the evening but there was no doubt that those present were moved and grateful to be there..

A number of years ago Trinity was also used by Southport College for fashion week. The only consideration was that the models did not go topless! They built a catwalk, had strobe lights, rock music, everything – Religion should celebrate the body, not condemn it. The fashion show celebrated beauty of the body, design, youth and creativity.

The arts and religion are interconnected: as the Beatles and the Bible show: ‘all you need is love.’
(1 Corinthians 13).

As I leave I know that Trinity Arts will continue to go from strength to strength and I hope you will come and see what’s going on. The programme offers something for everyone, in an affordable way and in a beautifully restored setting. This grade 2* listed building has the wow factor and is a lovely environment in which to be entertained and inspired.