Camille Russell Love

There is an undeniable compatibility with the arts and the City of Atlanta local economy. According to the newest evidence provided by the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV report on Atlanta, our nonprofit arts and culture organizations are a $300 million industry.

This calculation is a combination of the expenditures of these organizations ($168.1 million) and that of the attendees to cultural events ($131.9 million), excluding ticket prices. This local spending by residents and visitors to arts events benefits not only local business but local government as well.

Local government revenue from the above mentioned cultural expenditures, according to the AEP IV study, are $14 million. Proper distribution of these above mentioned government funds, in support of Atlanta’s booming arts industry will continue to heighten the city’s economic standing—without question. A good example of this cyclical relationship is a 2011 project of the Office of Cultural Affairs, Elevate/Art Above Underground. Local businesses, ranging from mom and pop shops to large hotel chains, gathered in support this downtown contemporary art and culture initiative.

Downtown Atlanta received a rather bold, immediate, and affirmative reaction following Elevate’s implementation. Elevate/Art Above Underground, a 66-day performance and visual arts exhibition in 2011, filled vacant properties, street corners, and plazas to showcase artwork ranging from 13-story murals to contemporary dance, video, installation, and poetry.

Although public funding allocated through our percent for art program was the direct source for the artist commissions, additional funding to execute an exhibition of this caliber was provided through local Atlanta businesses. Donation of art space, hotel rooms, theatrical lighting, food, advertising, and cash support nearly doubled the exhibition’s initial budget. Read the rest of this entry »

Blurring the Boundaries—New Paradigms for Public Art

Posted by Susan Pontious On June - 13 - 2012

Susan Pontious

This session was billed as one that would explore the “new normal” for public art by considering programs, events, partnerships, and policies required for sustaining vital, culturally rich communities.

Valerie Vadala Homer from Scottsdale, AZ, began by presenting the premise that traditional percent-for-art programs enabled by legislation passed by cities, counties, and states across the country in the 1960s and 80s may have become obsolete as cities approach “build out.” She presented alternatives of replacing permanent work affixed to construction with a model that focused on art events like “Glow” in Santa Monica and temporary installations that attracted audiences and enlivened the urban landscape.

Janet Echelman, best known for her ethereal “net sculptures,” showed an overview of her work, which has been funded by a variety of sources in many different kinds of locations. She spoke from an artist’s perspective about how she was adapting her work so that her dramatic installations could travel and be installed into pre-existing architectural settings.

Edward Uhlir, from Millennium Park in Chicago, showed us what can be accomplished when a city can summon astounding sums in private patronage to commission bold, daring art and architecture on a scale unprecedented in this country.

Finally, Janet Kagen gave us a tale of two cities; one was a successful project in Clinton, NC, the other was a project for the city of Durham that was aborted when it ran into opposition by other city powerbrokers. Durham then proceeded to legislate a public art ordinance so bureaucratically Byzantine that its failure was all but guaranteed. This experience caused Kagen to conclude that communities that don’t have ordinances should “stay that way.” Read the rest of this entry »

Back from the Brink

Posted by John Weeden On April - 13 - 2011
John Weeden

John Weeden

In a conversation with a respected colleague last week, she suggested I share our story of how our advocacy efforts over the past couple of years have essentially brought the UrbanArt Commission “back from the brink.”

I’d be interested to hear of other stories from public art groups whose programs faced serious funding and advocacy needs due to the economic crisis over the past few years, and the key strategies that worked in your particular situation (For the sake of this survey, I’m using the benchmark of when the big meltdown really began to cause serious stress here in Memphis in September 2008.)

In brief, we faced a situation where 9 of the 13 City Council representatives responsible for approving the funding of the Percent for Art program and its projects were newly-elected during the budget planning cycle in which I began in the position of Executive Director.   Read the rest of this entry »

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.