Author: Audrey Gámez

Racial Equity in Funding During a Pandemic

Black man wearing a protective medical mask. He is making a heart sign with his hands.

From C4 Atlanta’s Executive Director:

This blog is in response to recently discovering that black arts organizations were excluded from the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta’s initial funding of $580,000 to support COVID-19 impact relief. In the spirit of transparency, C4 Atlanta has received several grant awards from the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta (CFGA). They have primarily funded our civic engagement programs. In 2019, we were awarded a two-year general operating award. I am grateful. Service organizations are often overlooked in the City of Atlanta by local funders. Over the last few years, that has started to change for us as we grow and are anchored more into the arts community. C4 Atlanta is a white-led organization. I am white. I can tout our diverse audience of artist practitioners, I can talk to you about board diversity, and I can point out that I am the only white, non-latinx staff member. But I am white and my white face is often considered the face of the organization because I, with another white person, founded the organization in 2010.

I am deeply concerned , during this critical juncture in our city, that not one black arts organization was funded by the CFGA in its first round of grants. To quote my colleague Anne Dennington, Executive Director of Flux Projects, who put it simply: ” Arts organizations in Atlanta struggle for funding in good times.  Many will not weather the current financial crises.  As a city, we cannot afford to lose our Black organizations.  And if we do not recognize the inequity in our local philanthropy soon, we may do just that.”  How can we help to bridge this gap with the next round of funding? How can we ensure policies and practices of the Foundation going forward ensure an equitable distribution of resources to black organizations that have been historically left behind?

The next part of this blog is for my colleague. I support her. I want you to read her words. I told her I would do an intro. Any heat that comes can come to me. But I don’t think that will happen. I think the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta and other funders will do the right thing. Be well.

–Jessyca Holland, Executive Director


Now more than ever, there is an opportunity to pivot towards more equitable ways of working as our world changes to deal with COVID-19. Our normal after this pandemic will not look the same.

COVID-19 is affecting Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Color at profoundly higher rates than white communities. This virus has ravaged entire families and communities. However, COVID-19 has also given us a chance to embrace abundance, rather than scarcity, and remake the system. We don’t have to return to the way things were if we don’t want to.

This is why investment in culturally specific arts organizations is so important right now. Those that have the power to make this systemic and dynamic shift are funders and those providing COVID-19 relief aid.

If you’re asking “What does she mean by culturally specific?”, here’s my own layman’s definition: a culturally specific organization is one that exists primarily to serve a particular culture, race, or ethnicity through the lens of that specific cultural experience. Usually, these organizations are led by and founded by people who identify as the same culture that they serve. Why are they important? They address the specific cultural needs, beliefs, and nuances of that community, usually operating also through the lens of that culture. They are critical for providing support to that community, providing an affinity space of shared experience and all too often, creating opportunities for that community where few existed before in white-led organizations. These are a different type of organization than those who are white-led but serve communities of color.

In the art world, culturally specific organizations can be a critical career pipeline for artists of color to build their careers and a place where other systemic barriers like access to formal education or familial wealth are broken down. They are often spaces where folks from that community can feel fully themselves, seeing artistic work and leadership that reflects their own experiences. To sum it up – we need them. They are essential. And we need them NOT to go away.

Already arts leaders are thinking about how important our arts organizations will be in leading rebuilding efforts post-COVID. As my colleague Morgan Carlisle was recently quoted, “The same people who create that ‘Atlanta experience’ are the same people losing their touring gigs, closing their box offices, taking down their exhibitions, and canceling their educational classes. It’s heartbreaking. What will the city look and sound like when it is safe to go outside again?”

We can use COVID-19 as an opportunity for not only rebuilding but also a time to go further by creating a significant investment in organizations working at the forefront of racial equity daily servicing communities experiencing the deepest losses.

For Atlanta specifically, the “Atlanta Experience” is tied to the Black experience, and therefore Black arts organizations who support the growth of the culture that has created Atlanta’s global identity. When we talk about culturally specific organizations and BIPOC-led organizations, in Atlanta, we must recognize the significant way that OUR city has thrived specifically due to the contributions, labor, ideas, and work of Black people. Let me be completely clear – it’s not just that the black community has played some part. The Atlanta that we know would not exist without black people and black leadership. We cannot make mention of culturally specific leadership as a generalization here, though Asian, Latinx, and other communities of color have had an important impact, too. But it is BLACK leadership, Black work, and Black expressions of artmaking that has predominated. As a Mexican-American Latina, I recognize that these contributions have benefited Latinx folks’ advancement as well.

As we strategize then to best survive, regrow, and resow the cultural assets that are needed to support Black communities that have been over proportionately affected by COVID-19, we must prioritize the capitalization and rebuilding of black and black-led arts organizations. These organizations will be best poised to do work in communities hardest hit because they’ve already been doing this work for decades. Equity in the arts is EVERYONE’s job, but let’s take this time to acknowledge the way we want to move forward by creating a significant lasting investment in the people who have been working on equity since before there was money attached to that word.

For those that fund, there has to also be an acknowledgment and a reckoning with the fact that traditional philanthropy hasn’t done a great job of equitably funding culturally specific and POC-led organizations. When you haven’t acknowledged or invested in the work of communities for years, this builds the kind of distrust that even a pandemic can’t undo. I applaud the many funders who have or are taking strides to reconsider equity within their work. But now is not the time to think about what we can do, but to think about what is the RIGHT thing to do.

Because of the systemic inequity that has existed, many black artist-entrepreneurs that I know or have worked with are turning away from the non-profit organizational structure, because they do not feel like it serves them. That doesn’t mean, however, that their artistic work doesn’t still have public benefit or provide service to the community. They are simply choosing to do the work and operate without the constraints (but also without the philanthropic resources) of the nonprofit governance structure.

Funders: you cannot assume that just because you have money to give to offer relief, leaders of color and organizations of color to now trust that you will see their organizations as fundable when you have not invested in them in the past. To do so is to miss out on an important relationship-building opportunity to truly embrace equity.

What can aid-makers do? Firstly, consider the constraints that staff is currently under. Lengthy aid applications with lots of financial reporting documents are, frankly, kind of ridiculous right now. Consider making your applications as short as is necessary to get the information you need most, one-step if possible. Especially for organizations for which you have not made a significant investment in the past. Why would any good leader spend a significant amount of work time now, when getting funding quickly is most critical, on an application to a funder that they’ve had no success with in the past when they can use that time to pursue other opportunities with other individuals with whom they DO have a relationship? Only necessary, relevant, and current financial documentation has any bearing on how relief will be beneficial. No one is meeting the budget they set out to this year. No one is doing all the programming they intended. Ask for only the most relevant information, and understand that it probably has very little to do with what the future may look like given that we’ve all thrown everything we planned out the window. And what we thought the new normal might look like is literally changing day by day. A financial review or an audit that is more than a few days old isn’t going to tell you much about what the future is going to look like, and both cost a lot of money. If there are types of organizations you wished were in your funding pool, now is a great time to begin to build a relationship by reaching out to ask them directly to apply. That’s a very different gesture than telling your previously funded organizations to share with their networks or those they know who need it. Do both. Lastly, now is the time to also consider that not all organizations that serve the community look like the traditional non-profit. We know that significant investment in small and mid-sized organizations can catalyze their growth well into the future. Consider opening up funding pools in non-traditional ways or allowing fiscally sponsored projects to apply for funding to continue important community arts work happening outside the nonprofit structure.

While it is far from the only change needed, relief aid funders do have the power to contribute to making a more equitable culture of investment in racial equity than in the past. Instead of encouraging us to compete for what money is there, emphasis should be placed on helping us to meet the needs of the present situation in the most compelling and relevant way possible. Equity is a pretty word, but true equity looks like making sure our culturally specific organizations survive this pandemic so that they can be around to serve their communities and rebuild to a better place than before COVID-19.

— Audrey Gámez, Education Director

Atlanta COVID-19 Artist Impact Survey – Preliminary Findings

 

C4 Atlanta recently closed the Atlanta COVID-19 Artist Impact Survey. Our staff would like to share some of the preliminary findings ahead of our full data analysis. We will be sharing more detailed findings shortly.

The purpose of this survey was to gauge the overall impact of losses by individual artists and impact due to COVID-19 related social distancing and medical issues.

C4 Atlanta partnered with Dekalb Entertainment Commission to distribute the survey.

The Atlanta Regional Commission has agreed to help with data analysis and is currently pouring over our data for deeper dives.

This survey is modeled off of another survey by MidAmerica Arts Alliance of midwestern arts organizations. We have used their survey as a model in order to compare data between our two regions. In addition to releasing our findings publicly, we will share our data with MidAmerica Arts Alliance in order to compare trends nationally in COVID-19 impact.

We intend to release a follow-up survey later in the summer gauging longer-term impact and changes as the pandemic progresses.

All findings are as of April 24, 2020, the date our survey initially closed.

 

Here is a snapshot of our preliminary data:

  • As of April 24, the total amount lost for all artists responding (about 978 of 1014 total responses) is between  $5.1 and $6.9 million.
  • Initial lost income estimates (per artist) – As of April 24, it is estimated that the average about of income lost is between  $5,230 – $7,092 per artist and could be even higher since some artists reported losing $20,000+.

 

Who responded: 1014 individuals

    • Gender:  66% women, 32% men, 2% nonbinary
    • Ethnicity: 62% White, 23% Black, remaining 15% Asian, Latinx, and other races or declined to answer
    • Disciplines: From all sorts of disciplines but the largest sectors represented were 28% theatre or acting, 23% film production, 14% visual, 12% music, with other disciplines represented in smaller percentages.
    • Percentage of overall income derived from art making or arts industry work: 50% get most or all of their income from their art practice. 65% get at least half.

 

What has been lost (as of April 24, 2020):

 

 A graph showing "To Date, How many jobs/gigis have you lost due to COVID-19 cancellations/closures/precautions? (It is okay to estimate.)

  • Amount of Gigs/Jobs lost: 66% have lost 3 or more paying gigs; 34% have lost 6 or more

 

    • A graph showing "To date, what are your estimated lost wages/earnings due to temporary closures/cancellations related to COVID-19? (It is okay to estimate.)
      • 75% of responding artists have lost more than $1000 so far;  40% have lost more than $5000 so far. Some have already lost more than $20k.
      • Overall 83% have lost enough to impact their livelihood
      • If they earn income from outside of the arts, 72% have lost or partially lost that income.

What does that mean for them?

a graph showing "Please finish this sentence: Right now I feel confident I can meet my basic financial obligations until _______."

      • For April 2020, 25% are NOT confident they can meet their financial obligations
      • By August that number rises to 75%
      • If they were to have to rely just on savings, 40% could make it three months or longer. 15% could make it six months.
    • A graph showing "how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your creative output?"
      • 64% report that their creative output has decreased. (Only 17% report their creative output has increased.)

What do they need? 

 

A graph showing "How has COVID-19 impacted your livelibood as an artist to date? (check all that apply.)"

 

  • 44% reported that their mental health was impacted.

 

A graph showing " What typses of support do you need right now? (check all that apply.)"

  • Top Three Biggest Needs:
      • Salary and wages – either gigs, if feasible, or replacement (63%)
      • Mortgage or rent relief (40%)
      • Communication tools/resources (19%)
  • A graph showing " have you applied or do you plan to apply for any form of emergency relief funding?"
  • 58% of responding artists intended to apply for some form of emergency relief funding.

We’ll release more findings shortly!

Special thanks to our partners Shelbia Jackson at Dekalb Entertainment Commission, Josh Phillipson and Maria Sotnikova at the Atlanta Regional Commission! Thanks also to the many other artists, artists groups and arts organizations who shared this survey.

 

Dekalbe Entertainment Commission logo and C4 Atlanta logo.

 

COVID 19 Concerned: Unemployment Town Hall with Georgia Labor Commissioner and Atlanta Artist Relief Fund

C4 Atlanta has recently shared some Pop-Up Classes for COVID-19 related issues. In an effort to make the content of these programs more accessible, we have recorded them so that artists may share the content with others or refer back to it.

On April 21, 2020, C4 Atlanta participated in a Town Hall presented by Atlanta Artist Relief Fund with Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. Moderated by Paul Glaze – Atlanta Artist Relief Fund. Find Atlanta Artist Relief Fund at www.atlartsrelief.org if you need to join our meal train or some other form of assistance.

Other Panelists include: Grace Kim – Another Helping – Nonprofit and Small Business Management Consultant

Jessyca Holland – Executive Director of C4 Atlanta, a resource for Atlanta-area artists that provides professional development

Glenn Pieson – Member of IATSE Local 479 who has organized within his local to help answer questions around the process.

This post contains the recording of this session. The original session was live-streamed via YouTube on April 21, 2020. All information was current as of April 21, 2020 to the best of knowledge of the Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, the moderator, and facilitators.

Please note: Content in this workshop is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an alternative to working with a social worker or other professional.

Click Here to Download a Written Transcript of the Town Hall with Mark Butler.

The purpose of this session was to provide clarity and information regarding the unemployment process in Georgia. The Labor Commissioner explained some of the difficulties that may be affecting folks applying for unemployment.

Some of the questions answered:

  • Can you apply for W-2 employment for regular state unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for 1099 work?
  • Why is the process so slow? What are some of the difficulties in implementing this program?
  • What do you do about work that is underdocumented or undocumented? Can you go back and retroactively document past work in order to show income?
  • What if you applied too early as a freelancer? Will it affect my eligibility?
  • Is there an appeals process?
  • Are weekly work searches still required? Will the “state of emergency” affect your need to do work search?
  • What do you do if your qualify for benefits but it shows that you only qualify for $0?
  • Is PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) adequately funded? Will the money run out?
  • And more!

Due to some technical difficulties with the Commissioner’s feed, some of our panelists couldn’t contribute as planned during the time we had the Commissioner for. Therefore, Paul took over the QnA session. They did stay to clarify some things we learned and answer some larger questions to the best of our abilities. Please note, we are not professionals. We had the opportunity to discuss some of these issues with the Commissioner, so we tried to do the best we could to get some authoritative answers on the record

Links Shared by Facilitators During this Session:

C4 Atlanta: 1-800-WOW-ARTS c4atlanta.org

C4 Atlanta Lost Gig Fund: c4atlanta.org/covid19apply

Atlanta Artist Relief Fund: atlartsrelief.org

Georgia Department of Labor Unemployment Information for Folks Affected by COVID-19: dol.georgia.gov/gdol-covid-19-information

Georgia Department of Labor Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Information (for folks SPECIFICALLY able to receive unemployment because of the expansion of eligibility from the CARES Act): https://dol.georgia.gov/pua

COVID-19 Concerned: Personal Finance During Crisis

C4 Atlanta has recently shared some Pop-Up Classes for COVID-19 related issues. In an effort to make the content of these programs more accessible, we have recorded them so that artists may share the content with others or refer back to it.

On April 24, 2020, C4 Atlanta welcomed Rebecca Selkowe,  as facilitators for COVID-19 Concerned: Insurance Edition. 

This post contains the recording of this session. All information was current as of April 24, 2020 to the best of knowledge of our facilitators.

Please note: Content in this workshop is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an alternative to working with a social worker, health insurance navigator, or other insurance professional.

This program will not cover how to apply for relief programs like SBA loans or Unemployment Insurance but will cover information about what kinds of information is needed to apply and how to decide whether UI or SBA loans are right for you.

This workshop will focus on options available to artists affected by COVID-19 for personal finance help during COVID-19. This workshop is intended to help answer questions artists have about what options are available to them, how to navigate making decisions about what programs to apply for, and tips to manage or decrease current financial burdens.

Rebecca focused her workshop on a process of Intention, Attention, and Action. The process doesn’t change for artists because of the crisis, but the process may happen faster. This can help artists to take some of the fear of financial burden by focusing on what their needs are, fact-gathering, and planning a specific time to take action.

Rebecca shared some basic information about different financial relief programs available to artists during COVID-19. Some, such as state Unemployment Insurance for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, still had information coming out about the application process when this workshop aired.  Also, much of the information available is state-specific. The information shared here is based on our location of Atlanta, GA. Rebecca focused on the documentation and information folks may need to apply. Artist relief fund efforts were shared that could be stop-gap measures to help artists find ways to meet financial gaps, especially while waiting for other relief mechanisms to be awarded (such as UI or SBA Loans).

The different types of SBA relief available to freelance artists and sole proprietors were broken down so that artists could understand the differences between the programs offered. On the day of this workshop, additional funding for these resources was allotted by the Federal Government.

Lastly, Rebecca shares some basic money management expertise for how to handle money, investments, and budgeting during a time of crisis. She shared some tips for artists around debt reductions, best practices for handling your budgeting during times of uncertainty, and what to do about funds invested in the market, such as IRAs and 401ks.

Links Shared by Facilitators During this Session:

The Actors Fund: (917)281-5975 actorsfund.org

C4 Atlanta: 1-800-WOW-ARTS c4atlanta.org

Actors Fund Emergency Fund for (crisis fund for artists in any area of entertainment – also handling crisis funds for entertainment unions): actorsfund.org/am-i-eligible-help

Actors Fund Full Training Schedule (includes other online programs with Rebecca offered through Actors Fund): actorsfund.org/workshops

C4 Atlanta Full Training Calendar (all programs offered online during COVID-19 social distancing): c4atlanta.org/training

C4 Atlanta Lost Gig Fund: c4atlanta.org/covid19apply

C4 Atlanta COVID-19 Resources Blog (lists MANY relief funds and other artist resources for COVID-19): c4atlanta.org/2020/04/resourcefulness-is-the-bedrock-of-artistry/

TILA Studios Relief Fund (For Black Women Artists): tilastudios.com

National Black Arts Festival Artist Relief Fund (for Black Artists): nbaf.org (initial deadline has now passed)

Atlanta Artist Relief Fund: atlartsrelief.org

Kickstarter LIst of Artist Resources (shared courtesy of National Black Arts Festival Instagram site): kickstarter.com/articles/covid-19-coronavirus-artist-resources

Artist Relief Fund (MANY funders – up to $5000 for eligible artists, rolling applications): artistrelief.org

Georgia Department of Labor Unemployment Information for Folks Affected by COVID-19: dol.georgia.gov/gdol-covid-19-information

Georgia Department of Labor Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Information (for folks SPECIFICALLY able to receive unemployment because of the expansion of eligibility from the CARES Act): https://dol.georgia.gov/pua

IRS.Gov information about eligibility requirements and disbursement for Economic Stimulus: irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center

Get My Payment Economic Stimulus Tool AND Non-Filers Enter Your Information (for getting your economic stimulus check if you have not filed or what to know when you might receive your payment): irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments

SBA Loan Information from SBA.gov: sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

Open Path Collective (for sliding scale psychotherapy for uninsured folks): openpathcollective.org

Not mentioned in session but also helpful:

COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources: covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com/

Smartpath Money Moves Quiz (fill out and it will help you identify sources of financial support that you may be eligible for based on your personal situation): moneymovesquiz.com

COVID-19 Concerned: Insurance Edition – Recap and Recording

C4 Atlanta has recently shared some Pop-Up Classes for COVID-19 related issues. In an effort to make the content of these programs more accessible, we have recorded them so that artists may share the content with others or refer back to it.

On April 22, 2020, C4 Atlanta welcomed Renata Marinaro, of Actors Fund, and Amir Jones, of The Health Initiative, as facilitators for COVID-19 Concerned: Insurance Edition. 

This post contains the recording of this session. All information was current as of April 22, 2020 to the best of knowledge of our facilitators.

Please note: Content in this workshop is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an alternative to working with a social worker, health insurance navigator or other insurance professional.

Facilitators shared information not only on Insurance Basics (common terms, what is usually covered, etc.) but also covered a ton of COVID-19 related information for arts workers who may be looking for new coverage, can’t afford their current coverage due to lost income, or who may have lost coverage from an employer. Renata and Amir also covered some options such as short term plans and health share plans that some folks may be considering if they are unable to apply for coverage on the Marketplace outside of open enrollment. These kinds of options differ greatly from Marketplace insurance plans, and the facilitators covered the key differences of which artists should be aware of. Also, for those currently uninsured who did not have previous coverage, the facilitators mentioned low-cost and free healthcare services options that are accessible to low-income and uninsured peoples.

For those who have coverage, but are finding it difficult to afford it, Renata mentioned special income considerations for artists to know about that could help them save money through higher subsidies on their marketplace plans. For those that have had their coverage dropped, they would likely qualify for special enrollment on the marketplace due to losing coverage. They may also qualify for COBRA, but the facilitators mentioned that there may be both financial and coverage considerations for artists to think about before deciding which is best for themselves and their families.

Links Shared by Facilitators During this Session:

The Actors Fund: (917)281-5975 actorsfund.org

The Health Initiative: (404) 688-2524 thehealthinitiative.org/

C4 Atlanta: 1-800-WOW-ARTS c4atlanta.org

Actors Fund Emergency Fund for (crisis fund for artists in any area of entertainment): actorsfund.org/am-i-eligible-help

Medicare Information at Actors Fund: actorsfund.org/basics-medicare

C4 Atlanta Lost Gig Fund: c4atlanta.org/covid19apply

Health Insurance Marketplace: healthcare.gov

C4 Atlanta Local Resources for Uninsured and Low-Income Artists: c4atlanta.org/health-resources/

Kaiser Permanente Bridge Program: Available to C4 member artists who meet all program eligibility requirements (see the webpage for all eligibility requirements): c4atlanta.org/bridge

Grady Financial Assistance Program (for uninsured, low-income folks in Fulton and Dekalb Counties): gradyhealth.org/financial-assistance-program/

Georgia Gateway (for understanding Georgia Medicaid eligibility – also includes information for other government programs such as SNAP, TANF, and WIC): gateway.ga.gov/access

Federally Qualified Health Center (A list of low cost and free clinics for the uninsured): findahealthcarecenter.hrsa.gov

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (to verify whether you plan is an ACA regulate plan or not): naic.org

To find lower cost and county hospitals: essentialhospitals.org (click on “our members”)

Needy Meds (lists free drug access assistance programs for help getting prescription medication, especially for high-cost medications) – needymeds.org

GoodRX.com (to compare drug prices and receive medication discounts) – goodrx.com

More resources for Georgia Based Health Insurance Enrollment help: 

Out2Enroll: out2enroll.org

Georgians for a Healthy Future: healthyfuturega.org

The Health Initiative: thehealthinitiative.org/

 

Announcing the 2020 Spark Award Winners.

Celebrating Artists. Celebrating Atlanta.

C4 Atlanta 2019 Spark Awards Luncheon is April 16, 2020

We are proud to announce the 2020 C4 Atlanta Spark Award Winners!

Get to know these great folks helping to Keep Atlanta Creative.

 

 

Charmaine Minniefield –  2020 Kamal Sinclair Artist Entrepreneur of the Year

The work of artist-activist, Charmaine Minniefield preserves Black narratives as a radical act of social justice. Firmly rooted in womanist social theory and ancestral veneration, her work draws from indigenous traditions as seen throughout Africa and the Diaspora, to explore African and African-American history, memory and ritual as an intentional push back against erasure. Her creative practice is community-based as her research and resulting bodies of work often draw from the physical archives as she excavates the stories of African-American women-led resistance and spirituality and power.Minniefield’s recent public works include projection mapping and site-specific installation insight dialogue around race, class and power. Through interdisciplinary collaboration she incorporates other art forms to virtually bridge the past to the present.  Recent projects include the mounting of “Remembrance as Resistance” during the 2018 Symposium on Race and Reconciliation presented by her alma mater, Agnes Scott College, which opened with the removal of two Confederate monuments from campus grounds and closed with the work as backdrop for the closing talk by Alice Walker on art and activism.

Minniefield’s work is featured in a number of public and private collections, and as a muralist, her walls can be seen throughout the City of Atlanta and beyond.  She was honored by Mercedes Benz as a part of their Greatness Lives Here campaign. She is featured in the 2020 US Census commercia highlighting her recent Brooklyn mural of Harriett Tubman. Minniefield currently serves as the Stuart A. Rose Library artist-in-residence at Emory University as a a part of her public art which honors the memory of over 800 unmarked graves in Atlanta’s historically segregated historic Oakland Cemetary, presented by Flux Projects.”>

Living Walls – 2020 Artist Advocate of the Year

Living Walls promotes the power of public art as a social and economic engine, providing an artistic workforce to create healthy, sustainable urban spaces for the city of Atlanta. Living Walls has facilitated over 100 public murals featured throughout the metropolitan area, created through year-round work and past annual citywide conferences attended by 5,000 art enthusiasts annually. We have featured a host of world-renowned local and international artists, with collaborative projects in Miami, South Africa, Rome, Barcelona, and Moscow. Living Walls connects public art to urban development, helping to establish Atlanta as a destination for provocative arts and culture.

 

Winner of the Artist Champion of the Year Award: Anne Tracht of Consult Art.Anne Tracht, ConsultArt – 2020 Artist Champion of the Year

About ConsultArt, Inc.

Established in 1983, ConsultArt specializes in assisting corporate and real estate development clients with the strategy, planning, acquisition and installation of artwork for dynamic mixed-use developments and office environments. We work closely with developers, architects and design teams to identify and develop site-specific locations, design strategies and project scope/scale. We program-manage the entire process of identifying best-suited artists, soliciting project concepts, making acquisitions, managing site visits and overseeing proper installation.

About Anne Lambert Tracht
Anne Lambert Tracht is President of ConsultArt, Inc., an Atlanta-based Art Consulting firm focused on corporate and residential clients. She received her BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1996 and, before joining ConsultArt, worked at Guggenheim Asher Associates in New York and Solomon Projects in Atlanta. Anne serves on the boards of numerous Atlanta art and civic organizations including the Hambidge Center, Midtown Alliance, Georgia Tech Public Art Committee, MARTA Public Art Committee and The Judith Alexander Foundation.

Photo by Cliff Robinson
Get Your Tickets to the 2020 Spark Awards

Ticket sales end April 14th! No tickets will be sold at the door, so get your tickets now.

Celebrating C4 Atlanta’s Open House + WarnerMedia Partnership

C4 Atlanta has seen many milestones in 2019. It’s hard to believe the year is almost at an end.

One of the most major things to happen to our organization this year was moving FUSE Arts Center to 132 Mitchell St this past July.

After spending a few months sprucing the place up, moving in new artists and lots more, we finally held an open house to celebrate our new space on November 14, 2019.

In addition to the new space, there was another great reason for a party – our new partnership with WarnerMedia and the WarnerMedia Creative Residency!

 

Were you there to help us celebrate? Tag us on social media @c4atlanta or use the hashtag #c4atl.

 

Check out some photos from our festivities:

 

A photo of a piece called A Moment of Transformation by Bree Stallings.
Painting on glass by artist Bree Stallings available during the art sale.

 

A photo of artists Angela Bortone and Krista Jones in Jones' art studio.
Artists Krista Jones and Angela Jones hang out in Krista’s art studio at FUSE.
A photo of artwork by Davion Alston
Work by WarnerMedia Creative Residency artist Davion Alston featured in the C4 Atlanta Gallery space.

 

A photo of people looking at artwork by Davion Alston in the C4 ATlanta Gallery Space.
Folks check out the work by Davion Alston, which combined work from previous exhibitions in a new interpretation.

 

A picture of folks hanging out in the C4 Atlanta Kitchen.
Folks hang out in the kitchen and check out the photos of C4 Atlanta artists working in their studios.

 

A photo of Katilyn Wiltsee of Warner Media in front of a wall covered in brown paper.
Kaitlyn Wiltsee of WarnerMedia talks about the importance of keeping artists in Atlanta. WarnerMedia commemorated the partnership with C4 Atlanta with a new mural inside FUSE Arts Center.

 

 

 

A photo showing Artist Michael Jones unveils his mural in FUSE Arts Center.
Artist Michael Jones unveils his mural in FUSE Arts Center with iconic Atlanta skyline images, including the WarnerMedia building.

 

A photo of people hanging out in front of Michael Jones' mural.
A fun night and a great party! Join us again at FUSE Arts Center soon!

C4 Atlanta Open House – Meet the Art Sale Artists

Hi friends!

We’re so excited to finally host you in our new facilitates for an open house! We can’t wait to finally welcome you into our new home at 132 Mitchell St SW!

In July 2019, C4 Atlanta moved into a new location just two blocks from our old home at 115 Martin Luther King Jr Dr SW in the M. Rich Building. This location had been home to FUSE Arts Center and the C4 Atlanta offices for nearly 7 years. Moving to a new location was something we had been planning for 2 years prior. We knew there was a need for more artist studio spaces at our new facility and more classroom spaces for our programming to grow.

After a long search, we found the perfect spot at 132 Mitchell St. And to welcome you, we’re throwing a big party to celebrate our grand opening. You can RSVP here to hang out with us in our new space on November 14, 2019.

There’s lots to celebrate, but we’re especially excited to let you know about the Art Sale we’re hosting with some of Atlanta’s best local artist talent. Work will be for sale at affordable prices just in time for the holidays. Come check out, pick up something for yourself or someone else, and get to know more about these C4 Atlanta artist members:

 

A photography piece by Davion Alston with a man holding an magnifying glass in front of his face. Davion AlstonAlston (b.1992) is a German born, Georgia native, where earth is his playground, and Atlanta is home. His exhibition and education spans from a multitude of Galleries, a handful of museums, with a BFA Georgia State University. He describes himself as an organized system of complexity, with accidental accessibility. See more of Davion’s work on Instagram at @davionalston.

 

 

 

 

A picture of a portrait painted by Angela Bortone.Angela Bortone – Angela Bortone is a Dominican-Italian painter and muralist based in the metro Atlanta region. She is also member of the artist collective Living Melody Collective. Born in the Dominican Republic, she spent nearly a decade abroad in Germany before moving to Atlanta in 2002. Her energetic works of abstract figurative realism are inspired by feelings, emotions and thoughts. Figures coexist with inky splashes that represent swirling subconscious mind.

Bortone earned a BFA in studio art from Georgia State University in 2010. Her work has been exhibited across various venues Atlanta including Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, MINT Gallery, and Whitespace Gallery and across the US. She has painted murals for the Marietta Museum of Art, the Center for Civil and Human Rights and even a painted a school bus with Living Melody Collective to promote voter engagement as a mobile civic inspiration machine. Learn more about Angela and see more of her work at angelabortone.com.

 

a piece of artwork by Rachel De Urioste

Rachel De Urioste – Rachel De Urioste is an Atlanta based multimedia artist, designer and fabricator. She works in a variety of mediums including digital design, cast resin, oils and felted wool. Her work is both playful and grotesque, exploring an imagined world of kind monsters, cynical cupcakes, and oysters with teeth.

In addition to her personal work, Rachel enjoys collaborating with individual artists and fabrication studios on a wide range of projects, including large scale puppets, costumes, miniatures, stop motion puppets, and public art installations. She loves learning new skills, and is always looking for a challenge.

 

 

A photo of a painting of hands by Krista M. Jones.

Krista M. Jones – Krista M. Jones (a.k.a. Jonesy) is an Interdisciplinary artist based in Atlanta, GA, USA. She was born to a military family in Dallas, Texas in 1973 and spent her life traveling both nationally and internationally. Jonesy has used art most of her life as a tool to express and process the human experience.

Jonesy studied Fine Art at University of Texas at Arlington and gained her BFA at Columbus State University in Photography and Painting. After taking on an internship as an Assistant Art Director she began a 13-year career in Graphic Design. Jonesy has embraced creative entrepreneurship full-time and focuses predominantly on canvas paintings and murals. She is affiliated with AIGA, Graphic Artist Guild, Alternate Roots and C4 Atlanta, where she graduated from Ignite and HATCH programs. Hatch is designed for artists working in community based public projects. Some of her clients include Atlanta BeltLine, Unscripted Way, Sustainable Wellness, Aquarius Magazine, Brandshake Creative, Precision Performance Atlanta, Expression Chiropractic, Hales Photography, Virtually Staging Properties, KGA Creative, City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Third & Urban, Lake Claire Community Land Trust, MARTA, Modera Vinings, Livable Buckhead, ABV Agency, Path Foundation and Living Walls. She was a recipient of Laura Patricia Calle grant in 2017 for Living Walls in collaboration with four other women for a mural project called “In Solidarity” and assisted world-renowned artist Hopare in the creation of Atlanta’s largest mural to date. Her own murals can be seen around the Atlanta metro area and are rich with animal imagery, patterns, vibrant color and symbolism.

In her studio practice, she is currently working on a large body of work called “Pulling Light from the Darkness”. This ongoing work includes several series that focus on self-expression, gender, sexuality, empowerment, LGBTQI advocacy and intersectional feminism. This body of work focuses on human form, lighting, pose and position to express emotion and illustrate aspects of the human experience. Learn more about Krista and her work at jonesyartatl.com

 

A photo of a mixed media art piece by Michael Jones

Michael Jones – Michael Jones was born in Dallas, Texas, where he attended the famed Booker T. Washington High School for Performing and Visual Arts. He relocated to Atlanta, Georgia in 1994 where he received his bachelor’s degree in Painting and Sculpture from Atlanta College of Art (SCAD) in 1998. His focus was in non-objective, abstract paintings. = Newer works deals with definitions which he uses mixed medium, collage, found objects in addition he operates within interior and exterior urban spaces and honor the mundane materials that filter through our day to day lives.

My new work is driven by definitions of targets. A subject can be defined in many ways given the environment it is placed, the situation it is in, or the context in which it is used. I choose a target because it is the object at which efforts are directed. It places nouns as the aim of attack. Targets can be anything, which is why I feel the need to define them. Being an artist, I too am a target, since I represent the art that will be the subject of your criticism.

The new work is process driven. The physical act of shooting the target starts this process. I’m drawn to opposing things so the controlled randomness of the bullets traveling through the background sets the perimeters for the procedures. The gun becomes the first tool for marking or changing the surface of the target which exploits the notion of where my efforts are directed or the subject of attack. In addition found objects and mixed medium is added as a way for me to get the audience involved but letting them create their own conclusion of what they see in each target. Different pieces have themes that question one’s definition of
what or who a target is or can be. Learn more about Michael and see more of his work at letter75.com.

 

A photo of a painting names Ascension by Lauren Pallotta Stumberg.Lauren Pallotta Stumberg – Think Greatly, LLC is an art + design projects incubator led by Lauren Pallotta Stumberg – an artist, muralist, designer, illustrator and creative consultant based out of Atlanta, GA.

Lauren received a 2016/2017 Emerging Artist Award from the City of Atlanta. She serves on the board of C4 Atlanta as an artist voice as well as the Arts Community Liaison. Additionally, Lauren leads beautification efforts and community arts programming opportunities as a board member at large for Fourth Ward Neighbors Association.

Lauren is represented by dk Gallery in Marietta, GA. Inquiries to purchase her paintings and sculptures should be directed to Donna Krueger, dk@dkgallery.us.

Notable projects include the Moreland Mural Project; public art funding from the City of Atlanta, Norcross Public Art Commission, Hapeville Office of Economic Development; community art events such as Forward Warrior and Little Five Arts Alive; design work for small businesses in Atlanta and beyond; retail products at local shops such as Crafted and Sugarboo. Learn more about Lauren and see more of her work at thinkgreatly.com

 

A photo of a piece called A Moment of Transformation by Bree Stallings.Bree Stallings – Breanna “Bree” Stallings is North Carolina-native multi-media artist, illustrator, writer and activist.

Bree graduated from Queens University of Charlotte in May of 2013 with a Bachelor Degree in Studio Art and Creative Writing. She resides near uptown Charlotte where she works as a painter, illustrator and muralist. Currently, she teaches adults and children intermediate and advanced drawing and painting techniques at her studio called the Learning Lab.

Using art as her vehicle, she raises awareness for many causes that affect her life and those closest to her such as economic mobility, sexual health advocacy, displacement and homelessness and environmental consciousness.

Through the programs, curated art shows and fundraisers she has helped put on, Bree, alongside her creative team and partnerships with Project Art Aid, Behailu Academy, the Mecklenburg County Health Department, the Disappearing Frog Project, Pearls for Creative Healing and many more have helped raised over $500,000 for furthering development in Charlotte’s art and humanities scene.

Her works of art, poetry, and mixed-media collage have been covered and published in various print and online magazines including Creative Loafing, Charlotte Viewpoint, Indigo Rising, My City Magazine, MAYO, The Borgen Project, Society Charlotte, Charlotte Magazine and others.

In recent news, her partnership with the Mecklenburg County Health Department and students at Behailu Academy have provided the opportunity for 2 large-scale public art murals in designated “food deserts” to highlight the pressing issue of food insecurity in our communities. She is also an Artist As Change Agent Fellow of 2019 as sponsored by EmcArts, Artists Campaign School of 2017 Fellow as sponsored by Fractured Atlas, the 2018 GOLD Alumni Award Winner from Queens University of Charlotte and the 2017 Outstanding Leader In The Arts Award Winner from The Arts Empowerment Project.

Bree Stallings has been asked to speak, live paint, read poetry, present and facilitate workshops at the Community School of the Arts, Get Ready With Words, ImaginOn Library, C3 Lab, Blumenthal Arts and the Knight Theater, Discovery Place, the Sandra and Leon Levine Jewish Community Center, The Levine Museum of the New South, the Liberal Arts College Symposium, Industry Charlotte, the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, UNCC Higher Education Symposium, the Foundation for the Carolinas among many other private and public events. Learn more about Bree and see more of her work at breestallings.com

 

A picture of a work by Anita Stewarts called NZ Lacy Lady with Attitude. Anita Stewart – Her parents would never have guessed that the red bearded Santa in kindergarten and the art lessons at the “Y” in junior high would have lead to this. She graduated from the University of Memphis in 1977 with a major addiction to art and a minor one to art education. After moving to Atlanta in 1983, with her family, she advanced as both artist and art teacher. As an artist she achieved awards in national, international and local juried competitions. Her work has graced the walls of universities , art museums and private collectors. Her work has aired on TV on numerous occasions. Her Anita’s ArtsCool founded in 1998, was recognized as one of the “crown jewels of Buford,(Georgia).” (Gwinnett Daily Post)

Her passion is traveling and painting solo in different countries :South Africa, Italy, Peru, Ecuador, Panama and Australia ..Where next? These resulted in series that sing “Celebrate the Differences”.Many of her pieces were done on site in different countries.Such a wide scope of wonderful experiences for anyone!

She has drawn,painted while sitting on the ground next to cathedrals and lemon trees in Italy.She painted in the presence of a glowing sunset in South Africa and combined it with nearby mysterious ancient rock art .She painted the emotional responses witnessed in the faces of pilgrims doing penance in Panama .She painted a life size diptyct of a little girl in Equador confronted by an iguana longer than she was tall!! .

Her latest honor was to reside in Beverley, Australia for a month as their first international artist in residence.

Patrons connect with her crazy real life stories that inspire her art. Many can’t wait to bring a piece of her international adventures into their home or business to inspire them to reach for adventure as well. Learn more about Anita and see more of her work at anitastewartgallery.com.

 

A watercolor painting of a landscape with city buildings, a river and a cruise ship.Diana Toma – Diana Toma is an award winning Romanian visual artist currently teaching and creating in Atlanta, Georgia. Influenced by the European culture in which she was raised and enriched with American flavor, her style arrived at a unique cross that blends traditional techniques in a contemporary approach.

Diana has been engaging with the art community since 1995 showcasing her work in over a hundred international group exhibitions & eight solo art shows. Holding a Master Degree in Fine Arts from the prestigious Romanian University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca, Diana is often invited to judge and jury art shows, and to speak on behalf of the working artist on open panels, such as The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, and at The Contemporary museum in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2015 Diana became the grand prize winner of the Michaels Springtime in Paris, a national contest with over 11,000 submissions. Between 1995 and 2019 Diana won an array of awards, on state level, nationally and locally. Her artworks have been showcased in art magazines, billboards, and acquired by her county and corporations to be displayed in public spaces. Diana has recently completed a one year artist residency at Anne O Art gallery in Buckhead. Diana is the demonstration chair for Georgia Watercolor Society. Diana also teaches painting classes for adults in Atlanta area as well as at other art centers within US and abroad. Her teaching approach focuses on fast, free-flowing painting release, and creative un-blockage. Learn more about DIana and see more of her work at artbydianatoma.tumblr.com.

 

C4 Atlanta Art Sale 

Featuring works by Davion Alston, Angela Bortone, Rachel De Urioste, Krista M. Jones, Michael Jones, Lauren Pallotta Stumberg, Bree Stallings, Anita Stewart and Diana Toma

Part of C4 Atlanta’s Open House and Mural Unveiling with WarnerMedia

Thursday, November 14, 2019

6:30pm – 8:30pm

FUSE Arts Center

132 Mitchell St SW, Atlanta, GA 30303 – Third Floor

FREE, but you must RSVP

RSVP ONLINE HERE

C4’s New Arts Business Incubator & Partnership

C4 Atlanta Announces Dynamic Partnership with WarnerMedia for New Arts Business Incubator and Selection of Inaugural Artist Cohort

Atlanta, GAC4 Atlanta, in partnership with WarnerMedia, is excited to announce the creation of the new WarnerMedia Creative Residency at Fuse Arts Center. This new residency was created to nurture the business and career goals of six artists or arts collectives over 12 months. Six artist groups have been selected for 2019-2020. An open house and mural unveiling will be held on November 14, 2019 to announce the program partnership.

To support the program, WarnerMedia is investing $20,000 to support the WarnerMedia Creative Residency. This program combines C4 Atlanta’s arts entrepreneurship programming with low-cost, subsidized studio space and year-long mentorship on artists’ self-defined business goals. Residency artists will work out of studios at Fuse Arts Center, located in South Downtown Atlanta. They will also attend monthly cohort building activities designed to strengthen their arts business knowledge. Through this program, C4 Atlanta hopes to both stimulate intense growth for six arts businesses over the course of a year and keep creative workers at the center of development in South Downtown. Additionally, because of WarnerMedia’s commitment to support homegrown filmmakers in Atlanta, one spot each year will be reserved for a filmmaker or film collective.

Artists were selected for this inaugural through a competitive application process. Preference was given to femme-identifying artists and artists of color who are traditionally underrepresented at the highest levels in the arts.

South Downtown has long been an important part of Atlanta’s creative legacy. Largely known for the many music venues and clubs that once inhabited Kenny’s Alley at Underground, the area has also been home recently to many arts organizations like Murmur Media, MINT, Eyedrum, Mammal Gallery and others. However, recently, many of these organizations and artists have been forced to move to other areas of the city to find affordable real estate and suitable workspace.

Artist Michael Jones has been commissioned to create a mural commemorating the partnership that will be installed at Fuse Arts Center. An unveiling ceremony for this piece will be held on November 14, 2019. This event is free and open to the public. Attendees must RSVP.

“This residency has been a dream of our for a long time. It was important for us to keep these workers in the core of our city to contribute to a thriving South Downtown,” said Executive Director Jessyca Holland. “Downtown has been an important area for the arts for a very long time, yet artists also continue to leave. We hope our presence here helps to keep arts workers as a central part of our Downtown core.”

“We believe that this group of artists is very special.” said Audrey Gámez, Education Director. “They represent a diversity of age, experience and discipline. We’re not only excited to see what these artists accomplish utilizing the tools and resources at their disposal. We’re also curious to see how working near one another for a year will need to cross-pollination of their ideas and expertise.”

“Warner Media is excited to be a funding partner supporting the work of our local creative entrepreneurs in Atlanta,” said Dennis Williams, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for WarnerMedia.. “We see this as an important step to be a catalyst for the artists in our own community. We want to amplify Atlanta’s status as the cultural capital of the Southeast.”

Artists and art businesses selected to the 2019-2020 WarnerMedia Creative Residency:

A picture of XerophileXerophile, a documentary film production studio lead by Stephanie Liu and Monica Villavicencio (WarnerMedia Filmmakers in Residence): Monica Villavicencio and Stephanie Liu founded Xerophile, a documentary-style production company, in July 2019. They’re passionate about helping individuals and organizations create compelling narratives for a better world. Monica and Stephanie are recent arrivals to Atlanta from San Francisco, where they met working at Twitter’s Live Video team. Born in Chengdu, China and raised in Mississippi and Tennessee, Stephanie is a writer, filmmaker, and sci-fi devotee. She has produced content from Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Comoros for the World Bank and made TV for ABC News and CCTV America. In previous lives, Monica reported and produced for NPR, the PBS Newshour, and the University of San Francisco. She also writes fiction.

Erin Washington HeadshotSoul Center, a space that curates art, conversation, and community for youth lead by Erin Washington: Erin Michelle Washington is an artist, community builder and teaching artist from Montgomery, AL. She attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and obtained her MFA in Acting from San Francisco’s award-winning, American Conservatory Theater. While in the Bay Area, Erin co-lead a youth initiative, The Nia Project, which provided artistic outlets for youth residing in Bayview/Hunter’s Point. In 2009, Erin started ​Soul Productions​, a company that exposes urban communities to emerging independent artists who are pioneering new approaches to music and theatre. She has since taken her thoughts on community on the road. She has participated as a New Play Producing Fellow in the American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage, A Community Producer at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The Public Theater for “Party People”, a multimedia community-based theatre piece that explores the movements of the Black Panther Party and Young Lords.

Washington just recently served as a Producing Associate at American Conservatory Theatre where she was a producer and strategist for the Women’s Leadership Conference, Creator and Producer of the Bayview Arts Festival.

Washington is currently living in Atlanta, GA and is teaching at Spelman College in the Theatre and Performance Department.

 A photo of Davion Alston

Davion Alston, Fine Artist: Davion Alston is an Atlanta transplant, Georgia native, and received his BFA from Georgia State University. Alston has been featured in regional and national publications such as VICE’s The creators project, The New Yorker, and Burnaway. He has exhibited in noteworthy spaces such as Yale University’s Green Gallery, Winston- Salem State University’s Diggs Gallery, Alfred University’s Fosdick- Nelson Gallery, and The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.

 

Najah Ali, Actor, Director and Radio Producer: Najah Ali is an Atlanta actor and director. She is from Philadelphia, and received her theatre and math BA from Goucher College. She started her Atlanta performing arts career as an apprentice at the Shakespeare Tavern. Her local projects include: Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and others! She now manages a non-profit online radio station.

 

 

A photo of Taneka Badie-GearyBadie Designs, a graphic design and illustration company led by Taneka Badie-Geary: Taneka Badie-Geary is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She has been an entrepreneur since the age of 15. Since a child, she has always loved art and design. Taneka founded Badie Designs in 2012, when she was still in college. While being an honors student she built up her clientele through resources from the school’s career services department, volunteered and completed two internships. She earned her bachelor’s of fine arts degree in graphic design from the Art Institute of Atlanta. Taneka Badie is very hard working and determined to succeed in her career.

Four years later, she has expanded her business into an award-winning creative agency that provides branding, web design, and marketing services to small businesses, government agencies, and corporations. She manages a team and is very hands-on with every project. She is very detailed oriented and that’s what her clients love about her. Taneka has worked with over 100 small businesses, EMC (a fortune 500 company), and House of Cheatham (a global hair product company). She considers herself a creative problem solver. She is an expert in branding because of her knowledge in helping brands to grow from the startup phase. In February of 2019, she earned her Women-Owned Small Business certification, which lets her compete on set-aside contracts issued by the federal government.

A photo of Gibron ShepperdGibron Shepperd, Fashion Designer: Gibron Whitney Shepperd was born in a multicultural/multiethnic home in Southern California. The oldest of four children, he spent much of his youth in the nature of Northern California with his family. These exposures have influenced his perspectives on design, creating an attitude of a bourgeois bohemian. He creates for a design world that is sophisticated and sensitive.

Shepperd is currently living in Atlanta, developing a menswear brand that is both smart and beautiful.

 

To attend the Open House and Mural unveiling, RSVP online at http://bit.ly/C4OpenHouse

C4 Atlanta Open House and Mural Unveiling with WarnerMedia

Date & Time: Thursday, November 14, 2019 – 6:30pm-8:30pm

FUSE Arts Center, 132 Mitchell St SW, Third Floor, Atlanta, GA 30303

Tickets: FREE for All Ages

C4 Atlanta Forums on Power in the Arts – Part 2

A photo of Brea Heidelberg at the event.
Dr. Brea Heidelberg

C4 Atlanta is committed to the needs of a thriving arts community in our city. To that end, we’ve been working over the last few months on exploring power dynamics and distribution within our own arts ecology and within the organizational cultures of our arts organizations. Inequality in our city is well researched and well-documented. A Bloomberg study in 2018 found that Atlanta had the worst income inequality of any major city in the United States. But wealth is only one form of power. In an industry where so-called “diva” behavior is not only accepted, but even encouraged, we wanted to see what other organizational pressures and disparities our community had faced. What had Atlanta artists, arts administrators and arts organizations experienced, and what resources existed to help us create the arts environment that Atlanta deserves?

Our second part of this series focuses on our second program around power in organizational culture. On August 22, 2019, C4 Atlanta held Arts and Leadership Forum: Diversity Equity and Inclusion with Dr. Brea Heidelberg at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Dr. Heidelberg is an arts management educator, consultant, and researcher focusing on the intersection of the arts and other fields of study. She joined the Entertainment & Arts Management faculty at Temple University in 2017 and currently serves as Assistant Director of the program. Dr. Heidelberg is a respected expert in organizational culture in the arts, and a sought after speaker on this topic. We were honored to welcome her to facilitate the day’s activities. Organizational leaders and arts administrators gathered with individual artists to consider how toxic organizational culture manifests both in our organizations and in our Atlanta arts ecosystem. This program was once again presented in partnership with our friends at Alternate ROOTS. Here is a summary of what was discussed, what came out of this conversation, and what are the next steps.

Event Summary:

C4’s Executive Director, Jessyca Holland welcomed participants and set a general expectation for the overall day. Lauren Tate Baeza, Director of Exhibitions for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, shared with us more about the Center and the work they are currently doing to help ground us in place.

Jessyca then introduced Dr. Heidelberg, who both shared information and facilitated conversation throughout the day regarding how organizational culture can affect diversity, equity and inclusion goals within organizations and the Atlanta arts eco-system. Organizational culture is the values and behaviors that shape the dynamics, practices and psychology within your workplace. Organizational culture is different from organizational policy, although some organizations may have policies that help shape their culture. For instance, policies about how folks are expected to dress and what happens if they are late may shape the attitudes that folks have about their workplace. But often many aspects of organizational culture are more informally shaped by whom is in leadership and the behaviors and attitudes of those who work for the organization.

Organizational culture manifests in behaviors such whether everyone gathers in the break room to discuss a TV show, how guests in your work space are treated, and even attitudes regarding what is appropriate behavior within the organizational environment (i.e. are weekends sacred or do your co-workers email outside of work hours?). An organization’s culture can also shape who is attracted or repelled from working there. If employees do not feel welcome or respected within the organization’s culture, they may look elsewhere for a place that feels more comfortable. This can work against the stated diversity, equity and inclusion efforts of an organization, and can lead to employee turnover. Simply creating policies for greater equity isn’t enough. Dr. Heidelberg underscored that organizational culture can either undo intentions or keep us accountable.

The purpose of Dr. Heidelberg’s presentation was to provide an opportunity for arts leaders and individual artists in the community to have a place to discuss how organizational culture manifests and how we can disrupt models that work against a more equitable system. Dr. Heidelberg explained the many ways that organizational culture can manifest and what it can look like for folks to feel like outsiders within the organization. Toxic organizational culture is culture that can breed unhealthy work behavior, psychology or habits. Dr. Heidelberg mentioned that she is also a consultant for organizations looking to diagnose why their organizational strategic shifts aren’t working, and this is often related to organizational culture.

Organizational culture is strong, and individuals are the culture bearers of their organizations. It is up to individuals within the culture to be accountable for culture shifts, and this can be difficult if you are the only individual within your organization working to change the culture within. Many participants expressed stress and feelings of hopelessness when working within a culture that they felt actively stifled the changes they were trying to make within to become more equitable. Dr. Heidelberg stressed that changing inequity within the arts required both a well stocked “toolkit” of resources and a penchant for self preservation. Sometimes the appropriate response to certain situations requires nuance and finesse, while humor can sometimes more effectively convey a sensitive message. But above all, she stressed that folks not be accept being abused or taken advantage of.

Dr. Heidelberg facilitated a few group discussions throughout the day. In one, participants were asked to identify indicators of the nature of organizational culture within the Atlanta arts community. Some of the following were identified as indicators:

  • Artist and administrator pay.
  • Attitudes towards the arts.
  • Money allotted by foundations and government for arts and culture.
  • Attitudes towards individual artists.
  • Professional development opportunities available for younger arts professionals.
  • Who is involved in conversations that pertain to individual artists and to arts organizations? Who is regularly given a seat at the table, and who is never given a seat at the table?
  • Public commitment or policies for diversity, equity and inclusion with no femme-identifying senior leadership or employees of color.
  • Staff turnover rates.
  • Board leadership.

After this initial discussion, Dr. Heidelberg lead participants through an understanding of how to consider their own organizational culture. Steps to diagnose and change culture included:

 

Dr. Heidelberg stressed that policy and action plans aren’t enough. Plans are only as good as the folks within an organization that hold themselves accountable for change. Organizational culture is pervasive and stubborn. There is a REASON why that was the default culture prior to trying to shift. It’s important that EVERYONE be on board for the cultural shift. It is not one person’s job to be accountable for the organizational culture change for the entire organization, but everyone’s responsibility. Without accountability from all who experience it, previous organizational culture will not change.

To that end, Dr. Heidelberg stressed that at times that can also mean that organizational culture WILL NOT change until those who actively oppose the change or passively block change from happening end up leaving that culture.

At the end of our time together, Dr. Heidelberg asked us to come together to think about some of the aspects of organizational culture that we wanted to change within the Atlanta arts ecology and some ways to make change Some of the suggestions were:

  • Nurture and provide support for employees even if it means they may eventually leave for more pay or more opportunity at other organizations that you are not able to provide. Instead of worrying about losing good people, be the best training ground possible for administrators and artists in your community.
  • Where you can’t provide improvement in wages, provide training and other benefits. Examples: a seat at the table in important conversations, a fantastic work culture, opportunities to learn new skills, etc.
  • Pay people a livable wage.
  • Create standard procedures for exit interviews conducted by staff who are not in supervisory roles over the person leaving. Make exit interviews a part of your culture and a way to learn more about the reasons why people leave your organization.
  • If you haven’t done so already, create procedures for complaints.
  • As an individual, document complaints or problems in work culture that drive you to leave for your predecessor and yourself. You can share these with those who come after you to share the burden of responsibility for change with them. Additionally, you can also choose to keep this for yourself to document what you are not willing to tolerate moving forward.
  • Refuse requests to operate in an inequitable way, and explain your choice to your colleagues should they request that you do so.
  • Know what tool is appropriate to point out toxic behavior when necessary. Sometimes a hammer is necessary, and sometimes humor is necessary.
  • Take care of yourself and your needs.

Thanks to all who attended!

Photos by Krista M Jones

A picture of the crowd at the event