Connect
To Top

Meet Brian S. Chan of Creativity Catalyst (DBA)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian S. Chan.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My story is an unlikely one, but a fitting one. It started with me being a church planting pastor coming from Texas and dropping into the middle of LA.

My wife and I started a church from the ground up in Hollywood, called, “One Thing Church.” The church in Hollywood always had a foundation of creativity, both in practice and in philosophy. After a six-year run of one of three hardest experiences of my life, the church closed. While searching for my next calling the following year, I wrote a novel (“Not Easily Broken”), finished my doctorate (D.Min.) on a philosophy of archetypal heroes and villains, continued to teach at Biola University on a theology of beauty, fostered a son, and found myself starting another church later that year, called “Re-Create Church” (501c3), that made creativity an even more foundational element to the organization’s DNA.

Then the core team and I decided to focus more on the essence of creativity. Because there is such a depth and richness to a theology of creativity, we can exercise that and manifest it in what we do. So we stopped doing conventional Sunday church, and birthed Creativity Catalyst (DBA) in January 2016. One of our first creative tasks that year in January was to help paint an older man’s house in Compton as part of a community restoration project. Since then, we started two other sites in Fullerton and Culver City and had our main site in Burbank. Personally, I am a professor, an author, an exhibiting visual artist, a martial artist, a workshop instructor on story, a speaker, and a pastor.

A world-renowned artist wrote to me, saying, “although you are a scholar and a pastor… you are an artist, like us.” Creativity Catalyst is my main job in my purpose portfolio of, “I exist to re-create beauty.”

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
A mentor once said to me, “Sometimes the straightest path between two points for God is a zigzag.” No, it hasn’t been a smooth road, but no great story ever is. The crooked, bumpy road required me to sharpen my vision, re-strategize, and innovate new possibilities. Some of the challenges I’ve faced were crazy!

In my early ventures at One Thing Church in Hollywood, two guys were breaking out into a fight in the middle of my sermon, requiring four people to get in between them. I stopped a guy trying to walk off with television from the place where we rented. Once a month, someone was passed out in our lobby, and we’d have to call the paramedics. I was like a pastor, bouncer, and first responder. Crazy times for a start-up church back in the day.

Overall, the expected challenges of securing resources, raising up leaders, finding space, promotion, and building effective systems and infrastructure were the normal stuff. I think one of the common challenges for visionary leading is creating a spark that generates momentum which in eventually leads to a movement. That’s a challenge I assume all the time because that’s what I strive for.

All of my challenges were growing lessons for me as a visionary leader. One of the most important lessons included learning` to better take care of my mind, body, and spirit so that I can lead well for the long run without burning out. I think mental and spiritual health is essential for leading and innovating. Most creative endeavors require a process. We can’t expect the envisioned results from a one-time effort.

If a leader’s mind and spirit are not taken care of, he or she would crumble before seeing the fruits of the labor. People can be a challenge because we’re all nuts! There’s a level of unpredictability with people. It’s like that phrase, “You think you know someone…” I think the lesson there is working with people requires grace, humility, forgiveness, respectfulness, and boundaries – boundaries tell you where to draw the line.

In my work, people are both the receivers and servers. It’s about blessing people and turning them around to become blessers to others — serving people so that they will serve others. Of course, the challenge with that is how to make that happen as much as possible. The biggest challenge to creating any movement is finding the right people who can become leaders. In my experience, leaders are both cultivated and found. I can’t make a person be a leader who isn’t one, and yet even potential leaders are equipped and empowered in order for them to become the leaders they’re meant to be.

A common challenge for all endeavors is funding. There’s never enough of it. It’s hard to get it. How can you do anything without funding? We faced this same issue. I have two responses to that. You have to begin regardless of the amount you have. People follow the vision. When a vision is manifested, even in increments, the money starts to come because people see the vision and they believe in the vision. If you wait for the funding to come before doing what you’re supposed to do, it’s more likely that the money will never come. You have to find a place to start.

So then, how do you begin? Be resourceful in securing funds and be creative with whatever funds you have. I found that I didn’t have what I ideally needed, but I have something. Be creative, flexible and innovative with what you have access to. It’s like that old MacGyver show. Give me duct tape, a paper clip, and a swiss army knife and I’ll build a bike. Leaders of new endeavors have to find ways. The last and greatest challenge I think to a visionary leader is not losing vision.

But it can happen under the weight of all the fires that have to be put out, the many demands required to move forward in the journey and the discouragement from a perceivable lack of results by a certain time. I think faith is key. No one will ever believe in the vision more than the visionary leader. Faith is part of the job. I expect myself to believe it more than anyone else.

And for me, faith is a matter of being compelled by a calling that ultimately comes from a source beyond and higher than me, coming from above and serving an end greater than the sum of what I do or do not want. In the toughest times, my faith births tenacity and makes me a warrior of my vision.

Creativity Catalyst (DBA) – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Creativity Catalyst’s mission is to “cultivate creativity for the good of human flourishing.” Those in our ministry are filmmakers, painters, sculptors, actors, writers, photographers, musicians, fashion designers, teachers… We accomplish our mission by two means: soul growth and social redemptions. I think what sets us apart as a faith-based organization on creativity is our robust theology of creativity that enriches what we do and why we do it.

When artists come to us (regardless of their religious views at the time) and learn that their work can contribute to human flourishing and be a sacred task in adding goodness to the world that God desires, they felt validated and inspired to do great work. They see their work as connected to something bigger that transcends gain and fame. Plus, we constantly innovate, dreaming up stuff we can do to achieve a deeper vision. For soul growth, we conducted creative cohorts where creatives grow under the mentoring of a seasoned professional.

We have creative experiences, such as guided hikes and gallery visits, that afford insight and inspiration. We have experiential workshop series that exploring profound topics, such as the Beauty of God & Love. We hold Actors Meet-Ups that explore how to have a healthy soul and foster community. We hold getaway retreats for artists. Every week, we hold “Re-Create Nights,” where we see what the Holy Scriptures say to the creative person, pray for God’s favor on one another as we seek opportunities in our fields, and find fellowship with one another.

For social redemption, we conducted several functions for foster kids: an acting class with a showcase for learning life lessons, a photo shoot to show them their beauty, a writing class to help them explore their narrative, a martial arts workshop to build their confidence, and an art class. We conducted a poetry class with a poetry cafe and a watercolor class with an exhibition at a public school.

We conducted a creative event to fight against human trafficking by using the arts to raise awareness, funds, and partnerships. We’re exploring a possible project of using creative exercises to work with the homeless. Our upcoming creative event in Burbank on April 13, 2019, is “Luminate: revealing depression, illuminating hope,” bringing understanding and restoration to struggle of depression.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I always think success is defined by statistics, stories, soundness, and legacy.

Statistics is about the number of people we’ve positively affected, the number of redemptive works we’ve done in a year to contribute to human flourishing, the number of sites were able to start up, and the number of members we add on each year to join the mission.

Stories are about qualitative data, which I am biased towards. Stories are the personal stories from individuals we’ve positively impacted, the societal stories from institutions who report about the difference we’ve made in their community, and the organizational stories from our members about their experiences of our endeavors. It’s the aunt with her 14-year-old niece who tells me in the middle of Hollywood, “Tonight you saved a soul.”

It’s the young artist who tells me that it was our teaching on “dignity” that helped her face mistreatment in the industry. It’s the actor who said he was self-destructive until he found us and got on a path of faith and success. It’s the foster kids, the low-income families, the homeless families, the artists battling with depression… it’s their stories of our impact on them. This is where we cultivate creativity for the good of human flourishing.

Soundness has to do with whether we overall accomplished the annual vision we set forth. There’s a chance that we might’ve accomplished a lot of other things, but did we accomplish the vision for that year? I look for how sound our statistics and stories are to our vision.

How do you measure one’s legacy? You can’t really I suppose, because I believe a true legacy is what remains after you’re gone. But I still set this as a metric of success so that I always bare the perspective of evaluating our endeavors by its lasting impact. Legacy is a question of what will remain after we’re done or gone. It is the question of whether others are inspired by our vision to carry it on even if we can’t. So even if I can’t truly measure legacy in my lifetime, I still have it as a standard of success. Because if I don’t have it as a standard, I won’t aim for it.

Pricing:

  • The one service we do have a charge is consultation on establishing a creative arts ministry. We develop vision, strategy, and structure. We help set up a leadership team and equip them. $40/hour

Contact Info:

  • Address: 438 E Harvard Rd., Burbank, CA.
  • Website: www.creativitycatalyst.la
  • Email: catalyzecreativity@gmail.com
  • Instagram: CrecatLA
  • Facebook: CrecatLA

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in