At Renew the Arts, we are dedicated to liberating Christian creativity. We cultivate conversations about the role of art and artists in the church and in the world, and we sponsor projects by artists dedicated to their craft and their faith.
Renew the Arts officially became a public charity of its own in 2017, but it formerly existed as an unofficial branch of the Nehemiah Foundation for Cultural Renewal — which still serves as an educational organization and think-tank concerning the intersection of contemporary culture, the arts, and Christian faith.
The Nehemiah Foundation was inspired by Micah Stout, a singer-songwriter who found an overwhelming lack of support in his church and local community all throughout his life until his untimely death to cancer in 2010. Finding that his experience — feeling alienated while having a message to share and talents to use — was not unique, his brother-in-law Michael Minkoff, Jr. founded the Nehemiah Foundation with his father in the hopes of providing a support network for artists like Micah, as well as educating churches and patrons on the importance of art in the practice of Christian faith.
We believe the beauty of the Gospel will transform the world when Christian communities support artists in their God-given callings. Won’t you help us to help them?
Justus Stout: President and CEO
Justus graduated from Bryan College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Government and a minor in Koine and Classical Greek. He was awarded the Outstanding Senior Award in Politics and Government, as well as the Sanctity of Human Life Award for his work with Students for Life for three years.
After graduation, Justus was hired by publishing house Tolle Lege Press for proofreading and copywriting. From there, Justus joined the Nehemiah Foundation for Cultural Renewal as their Vice President of Operations, and helped grow their programs and support to the point of a needed expansion into Renew the Arts, where he was placed as President/CEO.
Justus has dedicated his life to the support of believing artists, and is constantly refreshed and energized by excellent art that is good, true, and beautiful—full of honesty, creativity, and depth. To better understand why Justus transitioned to a life of culture care from politics, read his blog post Why I Gave Up Politics for the Arts.
Michael Minkoff: Co-Founder
In 2007, Michael and his father founded the Nehemiah Foundation for Cultural Renewal, the originating sister organization of Renew the Arts. He has been involved in the promotion and production of underserved Christian art ever since, working variously as a multi-instrumentalist, producer, writer, editor, typesetter, graphic designer, and cheerleader.
Michael serves as an advisor and fill-in-the-gaps laborer for Renew the Arts while he continues to preside over the Nehemiah Foundation, narrowing its focus to the creation and collection of useful resources for Christian artists. He has written numerous articles and reviews featured on Renew the Arts, as well as a compact book on biblical aesthetics called According to His Excellent Greatness.
He is currently completing an M. Div. degree at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta. He blogs at MichaelMinkoff.com. He lives in the Buford area with his wife, Vanessa, and his five children: Selah, Amity, Miles, Ephrem, and Benedict.
Rusty Hein: Creative Director
Rusty met Michael at a Blockbuster in suburban Atlanta back in 2005 (ask them the story sometime; it’s a good one), right before moving away to get his BFA from the University of Central Florida. While in school, Rusty made occasional trips back to Atlanta to visit family, and would occasionally look Michael up when he was in town. On these infrequent visits, Rusty caught onto Michael’s vision for liberating Christian creativity, and became passionate about changing the culture for the Kingdom by raising the standard of excellence in art made by Christians. After graduating, Rusty moved back to suburban Atlanta, and began working with us as our Creative Director.
We like to consider Rusty our resident artist who has provided drawings, paintings, photos, videos, animations, websites, and friendship to us. Despite looking like a rockstar with his ridiculously long hair, he does not play in any bands; nor are the ladies particularly fond of him.
EJ Olsen: Communications Assistant
EJ Olsen is a writer and communications student from Everett, WA. EJ remotely joined the ranks of the Renew the Arts in the spring of 2016 as a communications assistant. He specializes in networking and publicity communications and also assists in managing the organization’s social media pages.
EJ came to know Renew the Arts through his music blog, We Are Mirrors, where he still writes about independent artists. He graduated with high distinction from Everett Community College in 2016 and will transfer to Washington State University North Puget Sound at Everett in fall 2017 to study Integrated Strategic Communications though the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.
EJ also dabbles in fiction writing and has a passion for drinking fine coffee, living in the city of Everett, and seeing Christ and his kingdom glorified through the promotion and production of excellent art.