Long-serving director of cultural affairs for Atlanta, Camille Russell Love joins Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio to discuss the upcoming ELEVATE Atlanta Art Festival and celebrating the art and culture scene in Atlanta. Love joins hosts Carol Morgan and Todd Schnick for the Around Atlanta segment.
The Office of Cultural Affairs supports the Atlanta art community through grants, art installations, public classes and public schools. This organization holds events such as the Atlanta Jazz Festival. Usually held Memorial Day weekend, the Atlanta Jazz Festival takes place Labor Day weekend, September 5 and 6 in Piedmont Park. The festival kicks off this year’s ELEVATE Atlanta Art Festival celebrating reopening, reignition and a reconnection throughout the city.
There are two primary divisions of the Office of Cultural Affairs. The Art and Education Division provides grants to the community, organizations and individuals to support operations and projects. Annually, $2 million is granted to applicants. In collaboration with art partners and the community, they support a program called the Cultural Experience Project. This program supports Atlanta public-school children and arranges free field trips to cultural venues such as the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Atlanta Children’s Museum, Atlanta History Center and more. Each grade has a specific cultural experience and through this program, students explore Atlanta culturally.
The Public Arts Division supports new commissions of public art. Currently, a project is in the works to expand the arts district from Northside Drive by Mercedes Benz Stadium to I-285 by Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The installation project features sculptures, bike racks, water features and everything art that focuses on civil and human rights. The team is also responsible for the maintenance and restoration of art that is already a part of the collection.
Atlanta has an extensive art collection in the public domain and because of this, restoration and maintenance need to occur regularly. There are three galleries in Atlanta associated with The Office of Cultural Affairs: Gallery 72, Chastain Arts Center and one located in the mayor’s office that focused on artists that may not receive exposure in public galleries.
Another program, Art on Loan, focuses on purchasing artwork from individual Atlanta-based artists and installing it in public-facing offices of the city government. The purpose is to educate the public within those spaces on the thriving art and culture in Atlanta, making public and government spaces feel and look better by presenting a partnership with the art community. At the Chastain Arts Center, they also host art classes for individuals in the community.
ELEVATE usually takes place in a single community for 10 days, but this year will be different because of the pandemic. To celebrate the decimated art community and to encourage citizens to go explore public spaces, ELEVATE takes place all over the city this year. Throughout September and October, every weekend focuses on a different community across the city. From visual art, performing art, festivals and restaurants to celebrating the art and culture within that specific community, there are lots of activities.
“We want to shine a spotlight on communities,” said Love. “ELEVATE is going to be everywhere this year and we are excited that we can provide our citizens with an opportunity to get out and celebrate one another and celebrate art and culture and reconnect with one another.”
The overarching theme of this year’s festival is REVIVAL. The goal is to revive the city’s spirits and connections and to do that, the festival celebrates reopening, reigniting and reconnecting. The Office of Cultural Affairs produces some of the events but also works with partners around the city to educate civilians on their work.
The 2021 curator is Charmaine Minniefield, a well-known artist and muralist. She pulled together a fantastic program of activations that deal with the overarching theme of revival and reigniting our spirits together. Minniefield recently finished constructing a praise house in Oakland Cemetery, a project set for recreation at Southview Cemetery the weekend ELEVATE is in the Southside community. The Office of Cultural Affairs is excited to have a great creative thinker involved in the festival.
The restoration of defaced murals or those that have fallen into disrepair will be a focus. Twenty mural bike racks will be installed on Martin Luther King Jr. drive and a presentation and dance performances at the Atlanta History Center. “A Day in the Park with the Arts” is another exciting festival feature that highlights music, storytelling and the spoken word.
Other festivals throughout the city this season are Music Midtown, One Musicfest, Candler Park Fall Fest and the Buckhead Fine Arts Festival.
“We are reminding people of just how vibrant Atlanta is as a cultural center,” Love proudly stated when discussing the exciting art and culture events coming up.
The Office of Cultural Affairs considers the city of Atlanta to be the cultural center of not only Georgia but of the entire southeast region.
Upcoming events include the Atlanta Jazz Festival Labor Day weekend as well as its return Memorial Day weekend of 2022. Two million dollars in grants will be distributed and a mural dedicated to the lost children of Atlanta will begin on the grounds of city hall.
ELEVATE Community Features in September:
- Eastside – September 10 to 12
- Buckhead – September 17 to 19
- Old Fourth Ward – September 24 to 26
To learn more about upcoming events and the arts and cultural community of Atlanta, visit www.ocaatlanta.com. To receive more details on the ELEVATE Atlanta Arts Festival as well as sign up for weekly newsletters about locations and featured artists, visit www.elevateatlart.com. More information on Atlanta festivals, including the Atlanta Jazz Festival, can be found on www.atlantafestivals.com.
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