Archive for May 13, 2007

ATLANTA, GEORGIA: “All Cultures Are Welcome”

I’ve just spent 4 days in Atlanta. As I was driving to the airport yesterday to head home to Tucson, I passed a small business with a sign in the window declaring “ALL CULTURES ARE WELCOME.” I found it interesting – not all “people” or “individuals” are welcome, but all CULTURES are welcome. This sums up the mindset of life in Atlanta – it’s CULTURE that we are a part of, that makes up our community. Atlanta is a patchwork quilt of cultures, all interwoven to make up a most interesting and supportive home for the visual and performing arts.

My journey into the arts in Atlanta this week included visits to the SCAD Atlanta campus, the High Museum and the amazing Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund which is building a foundation for arts organization survival that is a role model in public/private partnerships and support of the arts. I also gained awareness on Atlanta Celebrates Photography, and ART PAPERS, both of which I”ll also share with you here.

I was honored to be invited to participate at the annual Advisory Board meeting of Savannah College of the Art’s School of Communication Arts, gathering for the first time at the new Atlanta Campus of Savannah College of Art and Design, just up Peachtree from the Woodruff Art Center and the High Museum. Steve Bliss is the Dean of this School within SCAD and Photography Department Chair Tom Fischer, along with ACA faculty member Elizabeth Turk are building a strong presence for photography in Atlanta. It is an exciting time for SCAD and especially SCAD Atlanta.

Thursday, Steve and I attended the 2007 Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund Luncheon, a sold-out gathering of over 700 arts leaders, elected officials and corporate sponsors which celebrates the impact of arts organizations on the Atlanta Community. This year, with the theme “What A Difference” 15 years of the Fund and its contributions to life in Atlanta was celebrated by over 30 organizations that have grown through the support of its unique mission: stability. From their website’s Grants Overview: “Each year the Arts Fund provides selected small and mid-sized arts organizations with grants to support staff positions, marketing or strategic plan development, debt reduction, capital reserves and other less glamorous “behind-the-scenes” initiatives that are vital to stability. In all, Atlanta’s small and mid-sized, non-profit arts organizations (with annual operating budgets less than $1.5 million) use Arts Fund grants to develop sustainable organizational capacity so they can further their creative endeavors.” And: “The Arts Fund is a key resource in Atlanta devoted to helping nonprofit arts organizations adapt to a changing environment, while managing growth and maintaining professionalism. It’s like venture capital for the arts. While the Arts Fund does not fund artistic programming, the goal is to strengthen organizations and allow them to do what they do best – provide innovative and exciting creative work that contributes to the quality of life in the metropolitan Atlanta community.” In other words, rather than funding programming, the Fund helps to fund staff positions, strategic planning, board development and other elements crucial to an organization’s growth. One of the most impressive things at the luncheon was that when grants were announced, each organization’s staff AND board chairs were recognized, underscoring the importance of an active board to the long-term stability of every non-profit entity. Lisa Cremin, the dynamic Director of the Fund, serves the broader arts community as a member of the board of Directors of Grantmakers In The Arts. From GIA’s website: “Grantmakers in the Arts is a membership organization whose trade is discourse on ideas about arts philanthropy within a diverse community of grantmakers.” I encourage all of you to get to know and support both of these important arts organizations.

Another leader in the arts in Atlanta that I had the pleasure of spending time with last week is Anne Dennington, director of Atlanta Celebrates Photography. “Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP) hosts an annual, citywide festival each October. Now in its ninth year, the “ACP 9 Festival” programming includes photography exhibitions in diverse venues, lectures by both internationally acclaimed and local artists, a portfolio review and walk, a pushpin show open to all Atlantans, a film series, and a public art program.” While the Festival is still ACP’s main programming, the organization offers additional programs throughout the year including lectures, workshop, films and public art programs as well as partnering with other arts organizations under the banner “ACP COLLABORATES.” From the website: “ACP Programs are designed to nurture and support photographers, educate and engage collectors, promote diverse photography venues, and enrich the City of Atlanta’s cultural scene. Most of these offerings are free and open to the public. ACP strives to offer programming for people of all ages and with all levels of knowledge about photography.” Anne is an important leader in the arts in Atlanta, and in the field of photography overall; under her leadership ACP is evolving to serve artists and their careers in important ways. October 6th is the date for the 2007 Portfolio Reviews and Walk; registration will open on June 1 and be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Check the website for details so you don’t miss this great opportunity. Join their e-list here.

Yesterday, myself, Steve Bliss and SCAD faculty colleague Rebecca Nolan visited the High Museum of Art to see the new Renzo Piano addition to the original museum building designed by Richard Meier, and was very happy to see the wonderful spaces for viewing contemporary art in particular. It is stunning and not to be missed! The exhibition “Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005” is on view through September 9th. In conjunction with the exhibition, The High will host several programs. First, a lecture by Sylvia Wolf, Adjunct Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, during which she will examine the work of celebrated photographers Annie Leibovitz and Robert Mapplethorpe – from iconic portraits of artists and celebrities to never before seen or published works. This event will be held on May 17th at 7 p.m. in the Hill Auditorium at The High.

Addtionally, on May 24th at 6:30 p.m., Julian Cox, the High’s Curator of Photography, will lead a guided tour through “Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005.” Both of these interesting events are free with museum admission and for museum members.

Last but not least, I was reminded that an international voice begins in Atlanta: ART PAPERS Magazine. I have been a reader for many years, but had forgotten that the magazine is based in Atlanta; it is currently celebrating thirty years in publication. It’s regular section “FUTURE ANTERIOR: AN INDEX TO CONTEMPORARY ART’S IMMINENT HISTORY” features reviews of international exhibitions; every artist will want to make sure the editors at ART PAPER are aware of your exhibition(s) in hopes of being reviewed for this important part of the magazine. Be sure to read this issue’s cover story, available as a Feature Article on the website:

PETER FRIEDL in conversation with Gean Moreno

From the website: “ART PAPERS is a non-profit organization dedicated to the examination, development, and definition of art and culture in the world today. Its mission is to provide an independent and accessible forum for the exchange of perspectives on the role of contemporary art as a socially relevant and engaged discourse. This mission is implemented through the publication of ART PAPERS Magazine and the presentation of public programs.” Staff members Editor-in-Chief Sylvie Fortin and Senior Editor Jerry Cullum contribute to the arts far beyond Atlanta.
You can sign up for their e-newsletter here. And, more importantly, subscribe here.

You can experience the rich culture of Atlanta wherever you live, but don’t miss the opportunity to go and see it for yourself!

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