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Friday, June 12, 2009

What to do, where to go, and when to do it

click to enlarge COME TOGETHER: The 'Cartoon Madness' opening at Alcove Gallery
  • COME TOGETHER: The 'Cartoon Madness' opening at Alcove Gallery

When I arrived at Eyedrum last Saturday evening for the GATHER Atlanta event, the panel discussion on the arts in Atlanta had just paused for a brief intermission. It resumed a few minutes later with a discussion about the various ways in which local artists should and could communicate with each other to cross-promote events, form a larger support system, and generally raise the profile of Atlanta's artistic community.

Comments were made about creating a comprehensive arts calendar for the city, taking advantage of Twitter's immediacy to stay informed about Atlanta arts events, and the role of government as a cheerleader/backer for the art community. Having served as the Events Editor for Creative Loafing and now as the A&E Editor for the alt weekly, the first of these three points — creating a comprehensive arts calendar for the city — left me somewhat befuddled. Do folks not know about our vast online events database? Sure, the print listings have taken a beating in the past year but we have more than 4,200 events currently listed online, a huge portion of which are arts specific. So I guess what I'd like to know is, how have y'all's needs changed as technology and local arts scenes have evolved? And how can we (CL) better serve them?

In response to point No. 2 involving Twitter (and to some extent the first point as well), we're creating a Twitter hashtag and corresponding live feed on our A&E page set to go live Monday. The idea is to create an of-the-moment resource for artists and art lovers that says what, when, and where arts events are happening. Check back in after the weekend for details.

Regarding the role of government as a cheerleader/backer for the art community, one woman at the discussion stood up to make the point that, yes, the government needs to show artists support, but that constituents must communicate emphatically their needs and wants to their representatives as well. Here, here. On that note, this news from the Arts Action Fund:

The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets the initial funding level for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), approved a $15 million increase for the NEA in its FY 2010 spending bill, setting it on a path towards final House consideration. ... Currently funded at $155 million, this increase would bring the agency's budget to $170 million.

The FY 2010 Interior Appropriations bill will next go to full committee and then to the House floor for final consideration where your help may be needed to defend against floor amendments attempting to cut this increase. We must now put pressure on the Senate to match this funding level. Please take two minutes to visit the Americans for the Arts E-Advocacy Center to send a letter to your members of Congress letting them know that the arts are important to you!

This is a large-scale national example, but there are plenty of local opportunities to solicit your reps as well. Hell, there doesn't even need to be a bill in the works. Writing a letter, making a phone call or sending an e-mail expressing how critical the arts are to Atlanta is just as important.

(H/T to Susan Todd-Raque for forwarding the NEA news. Photo by Liz Barclay)

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