Tag: Alternate ROOTS

C4 Atlanta Forums on Power in the Arts – Part 1

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?

This first blog post is dedicated to the first of these two programs which occurred at Hammonds House Museum on May 19, 2019. A second post will be forthcoming on our second program at the Center for Civil and Human Rights on August 22, 2019.

Two hands holding. Digital syle. One red and one blue. Futuristic and glowing.

C4 Atlanta, in partnership with our friends at Alternate ROOTS, invited artists, art administrators, and community members to take part in a conversation about power in the Arts Community at Hammonds House. Over 40 arts workers showed up on a Sunday evening to share their stories and experiences in working with and within the Atlanta arts community. The conversation was facilitated by Christine Gautreaux and Karimah Dillard, both members of Alternate ROOTS. Both Karimah and Christine have backgrounds in social work and the arts. In an effort to avoid triggering events and past traumas of attendees, groups were asked to focus on broader systemic issues rather than personal encounters. Here is a summary of what the event timeline was, what came out of this conversation, and what are the next steps.

Event Summary:

The meeting began with a grounding poem titled “Invitation to Brave Space” By Micky ScottBey Jones and A Call to Acknowledgement read aloud by Jessyca Holland. Terms and definitions were dispersed among the attendees for common vocabulary that might be used. The group at large collectively agreed upon “community agreements” (collective rules of conduct for the evening) by unanimous consensus.

Attendees were divided at random into six Story Circle groups. Story Circle is a device commonly used by members of Alternate ROOTS for sharing stories in a group. The Story Circle worked like this: 1) Each group had a designated scribe assigned to listen and write down themes of what they heard shared. 2) Each person in the group gets a set specific amount of time to share whatever they would like based on the question asked of the entire group. 3) The only person allowed to talk during this designated time is the speaker. All questions or comments must be held until everyone has had a turn to speak. 3) Once everyone has had a turn to speak, the scribe summarizes common themes back to the group. The entire group can comment on the themes shared, provide clarity and ask questions.

Group responses were recorded on large flip board charts for all to see in the space.

Break-Out Session 1:

Prompt 1:

“Why are you here tonight?” OR “Why do you feel this was important?”

Collective Responses (Edited for brevity by C4 Staff):

  • I am here to intentionally acknowledge that harm has been done.
  • I want to continue to offer freedom to collaborate but mature as leaders and be an ambassador to community values.
  • There is a trend of prioritization “saving face” and PR, rather than authenticity.
  • I want to be involved in the reshaping of how we want the arts community to viewed going forward.
  • Arts professionals/artists have been forced to silence self to be complicit in order to succeed.
  • People are listening and are present but still not responding.
  • Addressing abusive personal/professional relationships.
  • Taking responsibility for your own role in community.
  • Recognizing trauma
  • Wants to see an ethical handling of complaints/transparency.

Break Out Session 2:

Prompt 2:

Prompt is “I wish…” or “My solution is…”

  • Take more responsibility for your own role in community. How you’re perpetuating or contributing to those narratives.
  • Shift from solution based to progress based.
  • Continuing having conversations across community to protect your own and provide spaces to heal.
  • Thinking of ways to share power outside of financials.
  • Hold leadership accountable.
  • Have a designated person on an org’s your Board for sharing the grievances of those you serve. That way, if folks are not comfortable talking to staff, there is someone else to listen.
  • I wish Atlanta artists didn’t feel so undervalued because we default to patterns of people we see in power.
  • Close the gap between artists and administrators so that administrators have access to artists’ experience as foundation to the work.
  • I wish more people were willing to listen.
  • Process a community as call-in vs call out culture.

Additionally, facilitators captured some topics that we had heard artists tell us they had experienced in the past. The facilitators developed a colored dot system where dots corresponded to personal experience with each issue. Artists were asked to place a dot next to any of the issues that had affected them in some way. Below are photos of this exercise.

Facilitators asked participants to respond to key themes based on their experiences using a colored sticker system. Each sticker color stands for a different experience.
A photo of a flip board chart showing colored stickers under community issue topics.
Artists left stickers to share whether they had personally experienced the issue, had seen it happen to someone else or had heard of it happening.
A photo of colored stickers placed under issues in the arts community.
Utilizing the colored dot system, issues that had affected the greatest number of people where easy to identify.










After this event,


C4 let participants know that a follow-up on power distribution within organizational culture in the arts with Dr. Brea Heidelberg would be forthcoming. Stay tuned for the update from this event coming soon!





C4 Atlanta Celebrates the 2nd Annual Spark Awards!

WOW. We just finished up our second year celebrating local artists at the C4 Atlanta Spark Awards yesterday, April 17, 2019. The event was held at the Crowne Plaza Midtown in the Georgia Ballroom.

For those of you that came out to support our mission, know that we cannot do this work without you! We love you and we know you love artists.

If you missed it, check out these awesome event photos below by the talented Cindy Brown.

Thank you to all of the local artists and arts groups that participated: Tasha LaRae, Soul Food Cypher, Havoc Movement Company, Kimberly Binns, and the artists of TILA Studios who’s gorgeous work was displayed in our registration space at the event. All of the artists that participated in this event with us, including our event photographer, have been a part of programming offered by our organization. We’re really proud of their accomplishments with their individual arts businesses and we expect great things from all of them.

Jessyca Holland, our Executive Director, announced that we are fundraising for our new space at the event. If you’d like to be a part of our legacy at 132 Mitchell by adding your name to an artist paintbrush or pallette, you can donate online here.

Thanks to all of our sponsors, friends, table sponsors and event vendors that made this event and our pre-event cocktail hour possible: Crown Plaza Atlanta Midtown, ChooseATL, Atlanta Downtown, City of Atlanta Department of City Planning, Whitespace Gallery, Provenance Media, Chef Melissa Allen Foltz, Specialty Wines Georgia, Synchronicity Theatre, Dad’s Garage, The Bitter Southerner, Binders, Blick, Alternate Roots, Georgia Lawyers for the Arts and Janke Studios.

Please feel free to comment below if you would like to share your experience at the event!


Board Members and Volunteers help make this event possible! Our Board Co-chair Ashley Walden Davis and Volunteer Yun Bai make sure everyone gets checked in.
Board Members and Volunteers help make this event possible! Our Board Co-chair Ashley Walden Davis and Volunteer Yun Bai make sure everyone gets checked in.


Board Co-Chair Shannon Price chats with local artists about their work during registration.


Vocalist Tasha LaRae dazzles the crowd with her performance.
Vocalist Tasha LaRae dazzles the crowd with her performance. Tasha is an internationally renowned singer, songwriter and vocal coach.


2019 Artist Champion of the Year Katherine Dirga of the MARTA Artbound program shows off her award. The awards were created by local glass artist Matt Janke, of Janke Studios.


Eyedrum Board Member Grace King enjoys the entertainment.
Eyedrum Board Member Grace King enjoys the entertainment.


Mistress of Ceremonies Odetta MacLeish-White reminds participants why donating to C4’s mission is so important.



Performers Havoc Movement company are pumped about the festivities!
Performers Havoc Movement Company are pumped about the festivities!


Havoc Movement Company excites the crowd by sharing a new work in progress. The performers first demonstrated their rehearsal process and then performed the piece in it’s entirety.


Keynote Speaker Jamie Bennett shares why artists are an essential part of every community.
Keynote Speaker Jamie Bennett shares why artists are an essential part of every community.


The crowd goes wild as we announce that we met our fundraising goal for Text-to-Give!
The crowd goes wild as we announce that we met our fundraising goal for Text-to-Give!


C4 Atlanta Executive Director Jessyca Holland shares a joke about Futurama to educate folks about how professional artists are viewed by the public in the City of Atlanta.
C4 Atlanta Executive Director Jessyca Holland shares a joke about Futurama to educate folks about how professional artists are viewed by the public in the City of Atlanta.


MCs from Soul Food Cypher close out the afternoon.
MCs from Soul Food Cypher close out the afternoon.


Soul Food Cypher uses their "Nice Bars" rap battle format to complement attendees and performers.
Soul Food Cypher uses their “Nice Bars” rap battle format to complement attendees and performers.
2019 Arts Entrepreneur of the Year Daniel Flores accepts his award.
2019 Arts Entrepreneur of the Year Daniel Flores accepts his award.


And that’s a wrap! See you all next year for the 2020 Spark Awards Luncheon.

Elise Witt Tackles Art and Activism

Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.

For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions. 

We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2018: Elise Witt

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a self employed singer, composer, community song leader, teacher, activist. I serve as Artist-in-Residence at the Global Village Project (GVP), a school for teenage refugee girls from Afghanistan, Burma, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Nepal, Somalia, Syria and Tanzania. At GVP I use singing to teach English and help the young women acclimate to this crazy new world in which they find themselves. We say that “every teacher is a student and every student is a teacher.” So we learn songs from the students’ cultures, write our own songs about they are learning, and dive into the International peace and justice repertoire of music.

My Impromptu Glorious Chorus™ workshops for adults take me around the country and abroad to get the world singing. And my Global, Local & Homemade Songs™ concerts showcase my love of world music as well as my passion for writing original poetry and music. I am a 40 year member of Alternate ROOTS, my artistic family, whose membership is made of artists at the intersection of arts and activism.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
My mother sang in a choir in Switzerland while she was carrying me, so I have been “making music” since before my birth. I always sang growing up, both with my family and in school choruses and ensembles.
I moved to Atlanta in 1977 to help found the Theatrical Outfit. We were a diverse group of performance artists who created original shows at our little black box theater on St. Charles Avenue.
From 1980-2000 I sang in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus under the superb conducting of Robert Shaw. I am a lifelong learner, and have studied with masters of improvisation Bobby McFerrin and Rhiannon, Pan-African vocal specialist Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke, maverick cellist David Darling and his Music for People, and Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Dr. Ysaye Barnwell, all of whose pedagogy I incorporate into my own teaching, writing, and performing.
I am fortunate and proud to say that I have made my entire adult living as an independent artist!

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
Growing up, with a love of languages, I wanted to become a translator or interpreter. I speak 5 languages fluently and sing in at least a dozen more. I love languages both for the way that each language has its unique expressions that can’t be translated, and for the rich musicality and sound of each language. I didn’t become a translator or interpreter per se, but in a way I now use those skills in my musical work, so perhaps I did follow that path in a circuitous fashion.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life? 
My parents supported everything my sister and I did. Even when we embarked on paths that were stupid or misguided, they let us make our own mistakes and learn from them. They came to every concert and performance I ever did. They were always curious and interested in what I was doing, and what my friends were doing. My friends often came to discuss their ideas with my parents because they really listened. I am forever grateful for the love and support of my family!

How is art a passion for you?
Singing is something we are all born with, but our society says that only certain people “have talent,” and the rest of us should be consumers. Music has become a commodity for sale. Humans for millennia used music to tell their stories and to connect as community. I use my music to find that place of community again. Music, and especially singing, vibrates us individually on a molecular level, and brings us together as community. Singing with others is one of the most powerful, passionate things I know.What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Our Public, Free, Totally Improvised Sings are new and exciting! Every month or two we partner with a membership organization and sing for an hour and a half in a group led, continuous musical experience using only our voices and our bodies. So far we have partnered with Sevananda Food Coop, Mulberry Fields Community Garden (part of the Wylde Center), Woodland Gardens, the Atlanta Beltline, and the Clarkston Library. We all need to sing!

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I hope to help individuals discover, explore and expand their voices, especially those people who have been told at some point that they are “unmusical,” “tone deaf,” or shouldn’t sing. I enjoy to collaborating with artists in all genres – I have collaborated with dancers, theater and visual artists. I hope to make Atlanta a singing city! And because I travel a lot with my work, I also enjoy connecting Atlanta artists with artists around the country and abroad.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?

My Work:


Ebony Noelle Golden talks about Conscious Creativity

Ebony Noelle Golden, CEO of Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative, speaks about Conscious Creativity.
Ebony Noelle Golden, CEO of Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, speaks about Conscious Creativity.

What does it mean to use creativity in an intentional way for community building and social change? Ebony Noelle Golden, CEO of Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative recently visited Atlanta to share thoughts and ideas for using a conscious creative practice to build engage community in a collaborative, constructive way.

In partnership with the Center for Civic Innovation‘s South Downtown Initiative and the M. Rich Center for Creative Arts, Media and Technology, C4 Atlanta presented Ebony Noelle Golden’s keynote talk on March 11, 2016. Aimed at getting those interested talking about using the arts across disciplines, this talk brought together city organizers and planners, studio artists, organizational leaders, business owners, property developers, and many more to explore the topic of conscious creativity.

Below are some photos from her talk. The transcript of her speech is available to download as a PDF here: Speech Transcript.

Ebony invites all in our community to sing and dance and share their communal creative spirit.
Ebony invites all in our community to sing and dance and share their communal creative spirit.
Attendees were asked to turn to their neighbor, introduce themselves and talk about why they were here.
Attendees were asked to turn to their neighbor, introduce themselves and talk about why they were here.
Ebony asks audience members to share their conversations about who they met. Many community members spoke with leaders in other sectors whom they might not have met otherwise.
Ebony asks audience members to share their conversations about who they met. Many people spoke to a neighbor who was involved in a different community building sector than themselves.
Ebony talks about the need for community building to start as a regular practice within the community. Issues cannot be solved by "outsiders" who "have the right answers".
Ebony talks about the need for true community building and conversation to start as a regular practice within organizations and groups. Issues cannot be solved by “outsiders” who “have the right answers”. She urged us instead to take her experiences and include the knowledge as a part of an ongoing practice of love for the community.
A community leader from Alternate Roots discusses concerns and questions regarding community building with a member of the Urban Land Institute.
A community leader from Alternate Roots discusses concerns and questions regarding community building with a member of the Urban Land Institute.



Alternate ROOTS Early Bird Registration

 Hi all! I have heard some amazing things about Alternate ROOTS annual meeting. Totally worth checking out AND they offer a discount if you register by July 24, 2012. See below for the details!


Announcing Alternate ROOTS Early Bird Registration

for the 36th Annual Meeting!

You’ve heard about it, now Alternate ROOTS 36th Annual Meeting and Artists Retreat is open for registration! Early bird registration runs through July 24th only.

The Annual Meeting and Artists Retreat is Alternate ROOTS’ signature event, attracting artists, activists, cultural organizers, educators, arts administrators, academics, and policy makers committed to community engagement, from all across the South, the US, and abroad.

This is your invitation to join us for six days of art making, networking, professional development workshops, late night performances, more art making, open space meetings, all in a family friendly, retreat-like setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just fifteen minutes from Asheville, NC.  (Did we say art making? Massage? Pool?)

Finally, as if the art making and amazing conversation, and budding collaborations weren’t enough, the Annual Meeting is one of the most affordable events of its kind anywhere; six days, all meals, all programs/events, plus your room, for $350.00 through July 24th.

So don’t procrastinate, be an early bird! Space is limited to insure an optimum experience for everyone.  Register now at http://www.alternateroots.org. After July 24th, registration will be $400.00.


Cross-Membership Initiative to Support Atlanta Arts Community

I am super stoked about this initiative. Read the press release below!


Alternate ROOTS, C4 Atlanta and WonderRoot Launch Arts Service Cross-Membership Initiative to Support Atlanta Arts Community

Alternate ROOTS, WonderRoot and C4 Atlanta are proud to announce the launch of an Arts Service Cross-Membership Initiative that extends discounted membership opportunities to members of each of the partnering organizations.  The cross-membership initiative between three organizations will reduce the cost of membership for artists to access vital services and educational resources. The program works to strengthen the ties between the partner agencies and their constituencies, and consequently, increase access to essential opportunities for artists and organizers.

Seeking to extend opportunities to the artist members of all three organizations, the cross-membership initiative will extend the services of Alternate ROOTS, C4 Atlanta and WonderRoot to the members of the other organizations for a flat $10 cost.  This reduced cost will encourage members of each organization to become involved in the services and programs of the others.

Alternate ROOTS, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the creation and presentation of original art, in all its forms, which is rooted in a particular place, tradition or spirit. Through this initiative, artists will receive an introductory membership to Alternate ROOTS that will provide access to all ROOTS publications. Introductory membership typically costs $20, but with this cross-membership initiative, it will cost $10 for members of either C4 Atlanta or WonderRoot. Regarding this opportunity, Manager of Programs & Services, Shannon M. Turner said, “Alternate ROOTS is so happy to welcome in new members through this partnership with WonderRoot and C4 Atlanta.  We’ve already grown and learned a lot from working together on an organizational level.  It only makes sense that we now extend those opportunities on down to our respective memberships.”

C4 Atlanta, an organization who works to build a foundation of research, technology and education for a sustainable creative economy in Atlanta, offers  entrepreneurship training, professional development opportunities, and access to health care coverage through a partnership with the Kaiser Permanente Bridge Program. Membership usually costs $40, but for members of either Alternate ROOTS or WonderRoot, membership will be only $10.

“All three of our organizations exist to serve the arts community,” commented Jessyca Holland, Executive Director, C4 Atlanta. “We want our members to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Alternate ROOTS and WonderRoot. A strong community means having a strong arts sector. That’s our goal.”

WonderRoot is a nonprofit organization with a mission to unite artists and community to inspire positive social change. Artist members have access to all of WonderRoot’s arts production facilities, as well as artist education and professional development opportunities. Annual artist membership costs $60, but will be available for $10 to members of Alternate ROOTS or C4 Atlanta.

The partnership between these three arts service organizations is rooted in a shared desire to support and sustain the arts and artists in Atlanta.  By joining together to offer discounted memberships, Alternate ROOTS, C4 Atlanta and WonderRoot are committing to each other’s members, as well their own, thereby creating a more unified and cohesive arts community.

Artists wishing to take advantage of this cross-membership opportunity should become members of Alternate ROOTS, C4 Atlanta or WonderRoot.  They will receive promotion codes and details on how to receive discounted memberships to the other two organizations when they sign up. This cross-membership initiative will be valid until further notice.


 Alternate ROOTSwww.alternateroots.org


Alternate ROOTS Membership: http://alternateroots.org/membership

Alternate Roots Contact: Shannon M. Turner, Manager of Programs and Services,      shannon@alternateroots.org

C4 Atlanta: www.c4atlanta.org

C4 Atlanta Membership: http://c4atlanta.org/membership/

C4 Atlanta Contact: Jessyca Holland, Executive Director, jessyca@c4atlanta.org

WonderRoot: www.wonderroot.org

WonderRoot Membership: www.wonderroot.org/membership/

WonderRoot Contact: Chris Appleton, Executive Director, chris@wonderroot.org