What we do

 When communities recognize their own artistic forms of language as powerful communication, they open up profound possibilities for becoming more like the kingdom of Heaven: People engaging deeply with well-translated Scripture, repentance and renewal, families strengthened, improved health, and more hope. 

EthnoArts approaches and personnel 
can open this door wide.

We Help Communities Meet their Goals 
People use language to make things happen: forge a friendship, pass on life crucial knowledge to children, become more like Jesus. Ethnoarts personnel focus on helping people engage with particularly energizing kinds of language, namely, communication genres marked by artistry. We work alongside local singers, actors, dancers, story tellers and artisans, researching and documenting a community’s performing and visual arts, and then sparking artistic creation to help reach translation, Scripture Engagement, and language development goals.

Arts personnel have helped communities

  • heal from trauma that accompanies war, displacement, trafficking, and other parts of life in a groaning world
  • identify song genres that inform the translation of stories, Psalms, parables, and other types of Scripture, making the translations immediately clear and singable
  • think about the way they use color, shape, and perspective, so that literacy materials can be accepted as familiar 
  • explore the genres they use to tell stories, making oral Bible story telling more natural and memorable
For many more examples, see the EthnoArts Assistance for Program Planning.

SIL's EthnoArts Approach Comes from Jesus 

We model ethnoarts missional work on Jesus' incarnational example (Phil 2:1-11): 

Be with. Jesus left his “home culture” with God the Father and joined humanity in Palestine (Earth). Our first task in mission is to live with people in community and make relationships.

Learn from. Jesus learned from human beings in his Palestinian community for almost 30 years before he began his full ministry. Our second interaction as arts facilitators is to ask people about their community’s arts and their goals. We show them love by learning from them. This process may happen over a long time.

Work toward. Only after going to humans and learning from them for three decades did Jesus announce and fulfill his purpose publicly (Mt 4:23). He worked side by side with his disciples toward the goals of his kingdom. He healed, taught, exorcised demons, rebuked, comforted, affirmed, endured torture and ridicule, died, resurrected, and sent his people to preach him and his kingdom all over the world.
       Our third missional activity, after going to people and learning from them, is to work toward goals with them. As arts facilitators, we do this by exploring with our friends and colleagues in the community how we might work together to use their arts to meet their goals.

Arts for a Better Future
Creating Local Arts Together - Seven Steps 

ABF & CLAT [English]




EthnoArts Stories of Hope and Transformation 
Arts Consultants: At Work gives a firsthand account of how the Mono church (DR Congo) turned a rejected art form into a Scripture-infused catalyst for revival and spiritual growth. 

The Love Choir, DR Congo

Harriet Slwooko, a Siberian Yupik Inupiat living in Alaska, shares the profound effects of Arts for a Better Future on her life. Worship and culture can flow.

Tears of Joy

Arts Consultant: Understanding illustrates the complexity of a performance, describes some of the analytical tools that we teach, and how to comprehend the form and meaning of a particular event. Available also available in SpanishFrench, and Korean.

Music: Heart's Language, The story of Sanggar Seni Peronde and the Tado people of Sulawesi. Can there be too much joyful crying?

Sparking Creativity describes the work of one of our colleagues in Burkina Faso which also is available in Korean