Saturday, February 6, 2010

State of the Arts: Community arts on the rise in Atlanta

Posted By on Sat, Feb 6, 2010 at 4:00 PM

click to enlarge PART OF THE SOLUTION: Chris Appleton (left) and Alex West run the community arts nonprofit WonderRoot.
  • PART OF THE SOLUTION: Chris Appleton (left) and Alex West run the community arts nonprofit WonderRoot.

By Chris Appleton and Alex West

Editor's note: State of the Arts offers passionate, informed and timely discussions about the Atlanta arts community by the Atlanta arts community. If you'd like to contribute, please e-mail A&E Editor Debbie Michaud at debbie.michaud@creativeloafing.com.

Community arts are helping transform Atlanta more so now than any time in recent history. New galleries are opening, public art is growing, and artists are staying in Atlanta. In recent years, projects such as arts networking co-op Gather Atlanta have celebrated and raised awareness of the city's independent artist collectives and businesses. When Eyedrum was faced with closing its doors in 2009, hundreds rallied to help stabilize the alternative-arts pioneer. New arts districts and walks have emerged all over town. Even some of Atlanta's more polished spaces are reaching out to broader audiences, such as the Contemporary with its free Thursday night programming.

So why the rise of community arts in Atlanta? Three reasons: identity, accessibility, inclusiveness.

Atlanta can and should be a destination for the arts, and it takes a strong community to create that environment. That community has truly begun to gel. The growth of and support over the past two years for our nonprofit arts collective, WonderRoot, has far exceeded our expectations. There has been a tremendous amount of enthusiasm around the programs and services we provide, such as our community studios and free classes; around the value we place on partnerships and collaboration; and around the promise of a more robust future for Atlanta's artists and art lovers. That promise includes more all-around support for public art, the new mayor's commitment to growing the city's funding for the arts, and the continued swell of start-up arts groups such as MINT Gallery. It's a true testament to the need and desire for access to the arts in Atlanta.

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(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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