Tag: atlanta arts

Investing in Atlanta’s Arts Educators is an Investment in Atlanta’s Youth

Why investing in Atlanta’s Creative Youth Should Also Include an Investment in Atlanta’s Arts Educators

By: Elisabeth Herrera-Very for C4


Atlanta is known for it’s vibrant, diverse, expanding arts community. From the amazing street art adorning our neighborhoods to blockbuster film projects; we have so much art to celebrate. Atlanta seems like a likely place to invest in the future of it’s arts community, however, the accessibility of arts education for Atlanta’s youth tells a different story. Wouldn’t it make sense to grow our own artists within the educational institutions we already have established? Wouldn’t more arts programming in our public schools add only greatness to our already robust arts scene? A greater emphasis on the arts sounds like an amazing idea but for that to happen we need to invest in supports for our arts educators.

All students in Georgia do not have equal access to a quality education in the arts. Data collected by the Georgia Council for the Arts (2015) show that nearly 40% of Georgia’s youth do not have access to high quality visual arts education, this means that students are being taught by a person who is not certified to teach visual arts, and 19% of those students do not have access to visual arts education at all. Arts disciplines such as theater arts have an even lower amount of high quality teachers in the field with 76% of Georgia’s youth going without any access to theater programs in their school (Bell, 2015, p. 17). One may ask, why don’t schools hire more arts educators? Historically, arts have been undervalued in public schools with little to no investment in growing arts programs, however, a more pressing problem is having access to high quality arts educators to fill those vacancies in the event that a school or district decides to invest in the arts. Keeping high quality educators in the field is problematic due to ever increasing teacher turnover.


In Georgia, like across our nation, teacher turnover is high. The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education stated in it’s Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2019 report that 13% of Georgia’s teachers leave the profession after only one year and 44% of teachers leave the field by their fifth year (GPEE, 2019, p.24). This high level of teacher turnover costs our public schools over 2 billion dollars every year (Phillips, 2015, para. 3). Many factors contribute to this alarming rate of attrition (teachers leaving the field) but the lack of supports for teachers is high on the list of reasons. The findings from GADOE’s “Georgia’s Teacher Dropout Crisis” survey (2015) show that one of the main reasons teachers leave the field in Georgia is the lack of professional development (Owens, 2015, p.4).


As a visual arts teacher, I have spent the past near decade working in a variety of metro-Atlanta districts serving traditionally underserved populations. I have seen first-hand how the lack of supports for teachers affect the success of students. With pay freezes and furloughs, high-stakes testing, and general apathy or disregard towards the profession by the public it isn’t hard to see why so many people choose to leave the field. This is especially problematic in the fields of fine arts. So many principals do not have an understanding of what we do and so many school districts see us as extraneous additions to the curriculum. When a trained professional is treated as one of the least important members of the staff it is hard to maintain morale. In the majority of metro-Atlanta districts arts teachers exist on an island of isolation. Being the only art teacher in a school can be lonely; there is no one to bounce ideas off of, no one who speaks the language of the arts fluently, and sadly, no room to grow. Sitting on the lowest rung of the ladder year after year is exhausting and disheartening. Upon sharing my findings with a group at C4 one member stated that her husband had been a theater teacher but chose to leave the field. She stated matter of factly “…and he was such a good teacher”. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Those of us who have a true passion for teaching in the arts are often crushed by the lack of supports or lack of access to supports.

I share these findings with the intent of sparking conversation in regard to what we value about the arts in Atlanta and the correlation between growing our artists and supporting our arts educators. Investing in Atlanta’s creative industries means investing in the educators who nurture and facilitate the growth of those creatives. We have all turned to someone to learn something new at some point in our life and those experts in their field supported us. Now it’s our turn to support those who teach in the arts because without their expertise our vibrant arts community will fade and for some of our most creative kiddos, their most effective means of communication with their world will cease to grow.


  • Bell, A. (2015). Arts Education in Georgia: Public School Data and Principal Perspectives. Retrieved April 15, 2019, from https://www.georgia.org/sites/default/files/wp-uploads/2018/07/Arts-Education-Research-Report.pdf
  • Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (2019). Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2019. Retrieved April 15, 2019, from http://www.gpee.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/GPEE-Top-Ten-2019-Final_1-7-19.pd
  • Owens, S. J. (2015). Georgia’sTeacher Dropout Crisis A Look at Why Nearly Half of Georgia Public School Teachers are Leaving the Profession. Retrieved April 15, 2019, from https://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/communications/Documents/Teacher%20Survey%20Results.pdf
  • Phillips, O. (2015, March 30). Revolving Door Of Teachers Costs Schools Billions Every Year. Retrieved April 15, 2019, from https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/03/30/395322012/the-hidden-costs-of-teacher-turnover

Sponsor Spotlight : Megan Dougherty Photography


Megan Dougherty Photography

Thanks to Megan Dougherty Photography in there generosity in sponsoring for the Atlanta Unifieds Auditons. It’s important to C4 Atlanta that we support Atlanta businesses that support local artists. Learn more about Megan Dougherty and her support for Atlanta Theatre community.

What makes your style of photography unique? 

I specialize in acting headshots, and so I’m usually only photographing the head and shoulders. I rely on different angles, and lot of expressions to make each shot unique. I’m very well known for bringing out my client’s eyes, and making their headshots look like them. My retouching is very light, and I do my best to photograph accurate representations of my client’s on their best days! I love doing headshots, but also enjoy fashion and family portraits when I get the chance.

How long have you been in Business?  

I’ve had my studio for a little over 11 years now, and am so happy that I get to do photography as my career! 

Why is the Atlanta theatre community important to you?
I love meeting all kinds of different people, and working one on one with actors (film and theatre) really inspires me and creates great energy during our shoot. I believe theatre and the arts is truly important to our communities. When a child, or anyone, sees a play they can be transported right then into a whole different world and the actors on stage make that world come alive! The lighting, set designs, costumes and everything is just amazing to see when you are there.
What do you love about your business?
I truly enjoy everyone that I am able to meet because of my career. I’ve met so many amazing people. I try my best to be an inspiring person on their acting journey, and I love keeping up with my actor’s recent bookings and what they are up to. My favorite thing is showing a client a great photo of themselves, and how awesome they look!
What inspires you as an artist?
I love interior design, traveling, being outside with my family, and all kinds of art. I can be inspired so easily, something as simple as a walk with my child and seeing different colors out in nature, or traveling to a totally different place and experiencing totally new things. I love to stay open and try to take as much in as I can.
Are there any promotions that you would like to share with us?
I’ll offer a discount to anyone who mentions “MDP C4”, they can get 10% off  any session until June 30, 2018.

Leading Lady : Laura Cole

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 2017: Laura Cole

Laura Cole, Director of Education and Training for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an actor, director and Director of Education and Training for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I started making up plays when I was 8 or 9, and joined a really strong children’s theatre program when I was in middle school, which was also when I decided to be a professional actor, singer and dancer. I got an acting degree from a strong college program, along with choreography experience and moved to Atlanta to begin my acting career. I have been in Atlanta ever since with a few out of town gigs, most notably an off-Broadway appearance in 2012.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
Once I realized being a crow, a bronc-buster or a starship science officer were less than realistic career goals I settled on actor. I expanded that definition to include modern dance choreographer and eventually added teacher, director and mentor to the list.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Adrienne Herndon of Atlanta would be a great place to start, but I would also really like to visit with Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (early female playwright and nun) and find out what her life was like.

Laura Cole as Mephistopheles in the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s production of Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Besides my mother, who was one of the strongest feminists I’ve ever met, my teacher-mentors made such a difference in my life and career. Early on Mrs. Betsy Lubs and Mrs. Ruth Longman, both high school teachers, taught me how to be an artist and a scholar. My choreography and modern dance teacher at Northwestern, Lynne Anne Blom, was the most influential and impactful person on the artist/teacher I am today. She saw something in me that no one else did, she encouraged it and nurtured it, she mentored me through four years of college and quietly taught me how to be a teacher. Her example is the single most important influence on my art since then.

How is art a passion for you?
There isn’t anything else I can or want to do.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
In theatre there are still more women in the education side of the business than men, and the artistic and management positions are more often filled by men than women. I personally don’t want to be an artistic or managing director BUT the education director of any professional theater in America should be equally valued, recognized and compensated for their work- I imagine they aren’t because education is undervalued in American society and women are often undervalued……

Laura shows off her Suzi Bass Award for best Sound Design in the New American Shakespeare Company’s production of the Tempest.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
There is SO much!!!! I started here a long time ago and the growth, even after 9/11 and the Recession in the mid-2000’s, has been amazing. There are so many young artists staying here after school and practicing their craft, which 30 years ago was almost unheard-of. We keep growing even though arts and entertainment and the arts-in-education are not yet fully valued and adequately financially supported by state and local governments the way the movie/TV industry has been encouraged with tax breaks, etc. When THAT happens I will be over the MOON!

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I didn’t plan it but the growth of full-fledged Education departments at area theaters and the growth of Teaching Artistry as a career option is a contribution I can look at and feel satisfaction.

If I could do one thing (beside professional acting) I would focus on mentoring and teaching others how to be a strong mentor both in the arts industry and in other mainstream industries in Atlanta.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
we’re on FB and Twitter, too.

“Book of Colors” to play ArtoberFest 2016

C4 Atlanta is proud to announce that “Book of Colors” will be the musical entertainment for our ArtoberFest 2016 celebration.

Who is this wonderful band? We’re glad you asked…

BOC press photo2016

Book of Colors is a band that constantly skirts the edge between torn-open soulfulness and delicate restraint. Their melodies are dreamy and hypnotic, and lead singer André Paraguassu’s distinctively warm, crooning voice carries them with an easygoing authority.

The lineup of musicians involved is somewhat loose, the band name functioning more as a moniker for Paraguassu’s musical endeavors than as a static group. Live shows typically feature six to eight band members with lush instrumentation and layered vocal harmonies.

“There is an amazing music scene happening in Atlanta right now. It’s a major city overflowing with world-class talent, but the amount of camaraderie within the artistic community makes it feel like a small town,” André says as he reclines lazily on the classically southern front porch of their drummer’s home in Little Five Points where they rehearse. “I’ve always loved playing with large ensembles and this city has been the gift that keeps on giving in that regard. Everyone is so supportive and eager to collaborate. I feel incredibly lucky to be working in such an inspiring creative atmosphere.”

André’s list of songwriting influences is long and eclectic, but the majority of artists and albums he mentions are from the sixties and early seventies, with a heavy slant toward music made in the UK, Brazil, France, and the southern United States during that time period. As such, traces of Nick Drake, Harry Nilsson, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke can all be heard in his vocal delivery, with dark raspy low notes and a soaring, bell-like upper register. Psychedelic elements that bring Broadcast, Pink Floyd, and Caetano Veloso to mind mix with introspective lyrics and symphonic orchestration in Paraguassu’s often complex song structures.

Book of Colors has played alongside national and international acts that include Kishi Bashi, Bright Black Morning Light, Little Tybee, Horse Feathers, Della Mae, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, and Streets of Laredo. They’ve also performed in numerous festivals and events in and around Atlanta and the Southeastern United States.

“Book of Colors sounds like that elf you meet way out in the woods strumming a harp made of dreams and rainbows. And his band is a tough gang of unicorns high on Gummi juice.” -Artlantis





Don’t miss your chance to see “Book of Colors”. Tickets are on sale now for ArtoberFest 2016. Buy today! 


Elizabeth Jarrett Envisions National Recognition for Arts in Atlanta

As you may know, March is National Women’s History Month. Last year, C4 Atlanta shared the stories of women arts administrators in our city as part of a project with the National Women’s History Project called “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives”.

C4 Atlanta is excited to curate this blog series for the second year in a row! We will be highlighting women’s stories on our blog and on our social media throughout the month of March and into April. This year we have expanded the project to include

the stories of more women and to share a diverse range of experiences, including women nationally as well as locally. Sharing women’s triumphs challenges stereotypes within today’s society and overturns social assumptions about who women are and what women can accomplish.

Elizabeth Jarrett participating in Natural Selection through her company Deer Bear Wolf
Elizabeth Jarrett participating in Natural Selection through her company Deer Bear Wolf

With that being said, we’d love to introduce our next leading lady, Elizabeth Jarrett.


Where do you work and what do you do?

I am on staff (our roles are changing- exciting announcements soon) at Deer Bear Wolf. For the past couple of years, we have been a multifaceted platform for Atlanta artists with a small record label, printing press, and quarterly arts magazine. We also host regular events, including our reading series, Transgression, and the annualPhoenix Festival. I also recently opened a performance arts-based community center called the Downtown Players Club with artist Kris Pilcher. We are a space for avant-guard performance, experimentation, and incubation in Atlanta’s South Downtown neighborhood.

I think it’s important to note that I consider myself an artist first and foremost. I still freelance set design, paint, and write, but it’s also fulfilling to help other people with their creative endeavors.


What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a writer. I used to bind my own books with original illustrations and I’ve always carried a notebook with me to jot down ideas or experiences. I also was interested in archeology, but eventually had to come to terms with the fact that all archeologists didn’t lead a life like Indiana Jones. Once I got a taste of the limelight though, I wanted to be a movie star. I still haven’t given that up.


Who was your favorite artist/writer/performer growing up?

My Dad was a professional photographer and prolific artist, so I was exposed to a lot of interesting people at an early age. Some family friends of ours had a personal relationship with folk artist Howard Finster, and I remember him being the first visual artist I really connected with. I was also inspired heavily by Judy Garland, Alfred Hitchcock (yes, even as a child), and later the writings of Zora Neale Hurston.


Elizabeth Jarrett, founder of Dear Bear Wolf and Co-Founder of Downtown Players Club

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?

I’m going to bring this question back to my Dad. He passed away when I was 21, but the lessons he instilled in me regarding creative process are still very much a part of my life today. My Dad was always pushing us to express ourselves in whatever way we felt compelled to. My parents created an atmosphere we could flourish in- even building my sister and I our own studio spaces at age 7. I tell this often, but I remember once he took me into the woods behind our house and told me to explore barefoot because “it would strengthen my souls.” When I was about 10, he started a new photography company and asked me to name it and draw the logo… which he made the name and logo for the business. He showed me the importance of taking creative risks and always encouraged me to do exactly what I wanted to. Both of my parents were supportive in that way, and with Dad- everything was an adventure. I really wish he could participate in what I’m doing now because I know he would be there for every moment of it.


When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?

I have only been interested in the arts since I can remember. I think I started taking an active role in my artistic community around 5th grade, when I started performing publicly. The first production I did was “The Wizard of Oz.” The next year, my school did a very impressive staging of “Mary Poppins,” where I landed the title role. I would say I was officially hooked after that. I worked mostly in theater all the way through college and after- and entered the world of arts administration and curation out of necessity after my friends and I started a theater company. I’ve been pretty focused on that for the past 6 years.


How is art a passion for you?

I think art is the solution to all of the problems of the universe. That’s a little exaggerated, but I think that the power of creative thought and the importance of art in culture are undervalued by society as a whole. My life is constantly encompassed in art and by creative people, so for me there is little else that has the power to unite people, positively impact a community, and share modern culture with future generations.


What are your thoughts on equality and representation of women in the arts?

There have always been strong, influential women artists in the world. As with any other industry though, women are often underrepresented and not given credit for their work, especially when shared with a male counterpart. We have come a long way from women painters using a male pen name so their pieces would sell, but we still have a long way to go until we reach true equality. I think one of the keys to stronger female representation is having women in roles of power. The music industry is especially male dominated, but more female producers, studio engineers, musicians- that could inspire an entirely new age of young women to rise up within the industry. Women are powerful and have continued to demand recognition and representation- and it’s a slow change- but we have to continue to make noise if we want to see that change. The female artist is romanticized and fetishized, but I think a lot of women are inspired by their experiences to create compelling and moving work.

I yearn for the day that Yoko Ono is commended for her performance art work- work that sparked a movement- and not known as “the one who broke up the Beatles.” Everything we do, we have to work 10 times harder for to be taken seriously. I experience it daily- but I’m inspired by the women around me who refuse to let that stop them.. and there are a lot of them.


Elizabeth out for a walk with her best pal, Sadie Lou

What in your profession has  given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment? Looking back, what would you have done differently? What would you do again?

Curating events and experiences has been extremely fulfilling for me I think the tipping point was the very first Natural Selection I did at Deer Bear Wolf. Natural Selection is a variety show that I curate- there are no limitations or themes, I just give the performers ten minutes to do anything they want. I wanted to push performers to do something they might not have the opportunity to do in under more formal circumstances. I was delighted to see an audience witness an very experimental performance art piece, paired with a stand-up comedian, paired with a musician, topped off with Jungol’s visceral performance “Fooferaw.”

I think if I were to go back and do things again, I would make sure to manicure my own artistic craft and perhaps collaborate a little more. It’s not too late for that, though. I’ve had to build a lot out of nothing for myself and everything takes time. I would do any of it again.


What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?

I’ve lived in Atlanta all of my life and watched the city grow and change. I’m most excited about the rise of a new generation of arts leaders who place an emphasis on political issues and community. Atlanta has been going through a sort of renaissance in the past couple of years, and I think the city’s creative class has made a point to maintain Atlanta culture and character in a way that should be recognized by the city. My hope is that our artists can gain national recognition for the important work happening here and that we can attract more creatives to the city- but first, we’ve got a lot of infrastructure issues to sort out.


What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community?

I hope to give artists in my community opportunity. Everything I do these days is to present people with the the tools they need (to the best of my ability) to create, whether it’s space or through an experience. It’s taking me years to figure out how to best use the resources I have to help others, but in the meantime I’m just trying to be a positive voice in Atlanta. I’m working towards a big picture goal, and every project is a catapult towards the Atlanta I hope for. Atlanta deserves an internationally recognized arts community, but it’s important that we start here at home, first. Currently, a lot of my time is spent helping to cultivate an arts district in South Downtown that celebrates all that the Atlanta arts community has to offer.


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

  • Deer Bear Wolf: 


Facebook: www.facebook.com/deerbearwolf

Instagram: @deerbearwolf


  • Downtown Players Club:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DowntownPlayersClubATL

Instagram: @dtpcatl



Elizabeth Jarrett is a curator, artist, and designer born and raised in Atlanta, GA. She was a founding member of The Collective Project, Inc, the first resident theater company at The Goat Farm Arts Center and was a participant of The Millennial Trains Project in 2014, where she traveled via rail around the country researching public art in various cities. She graduated with a BA in Theater and Performance Studies from Kennesaw State University and continues to design and produce work around town. Elizabeth now works as Executive Director for Deer Bear Wolf and co-founded The Downtown Players Club, a performance-based community center. Her passion for building community has led her to working in various neighborhoods throughout Atlanta.

The Power of Why

Getting classy at the opera. Go support Atlanta Opera! You won’t be disappointed!

Last Friday night, I had one of those “transformative” experiences we in the arts so often like to refer to when we try to validate the importance of what we do to outsiders. A friend invited me along to attend the Atlanta Opera’s latest performance of La Boheme. I’ll admit, this is one of my favorite works, so perhaps my judgement is a little biased. Mr. Puccini did an excellent job of crafting perhaps the most gorgeous of all romantic comedies with everything we expect from opera – death, sopranos singing a ton of high notes, a love story, and scandal, complete with a toy vendor, a parade and a soliloquy about love for an old coat.

As I was sitting in the concert hall, crying my eyes out as Mimi and Rodolfo prepare to break up because his poverty is literally causing her to die faster of tuberculosis (oh that cliche 19th century consumption…), I was reminded of why I fell in love with this art form in the first place for the first time in a long time. Just like a relationship that’s lasted through the years, we fall in love with what we do over and over and over again.

We often feel much less love and appreciation when we think of the administrative practices that propel our artistry forward. I am the first to tell you that even though I teach classes on arts business, I rarely get excited over filling in spreadsheets. On its own, managing email lists is about as thrilling as being waterboarded. The monotony of small, detail-oriented tasks sometimes becomes unbearable when we consider that the time could be spent on our creative practices instead. And not spending an adequate amount of time managing their business needs is where many artists falter in their careers.

Keeping notes that our students have sent on my desk reminds me why what we do is so important. Plus, ALL THE FEELS!
Keeping notes that our students have sent on my desk reminds me why what we do is so important. Plus, ALL THE FEELS!

We teach our students at C4 Atlanta that it is the “Why” behind your creative discipline that drives consumer behavior and not the “What.” I would also venture even further to say that we need to keep the “Why” in mind for motivating us to spend an adequate amount of time on the practices that maintain our small arts businesses. As artists, inspiration drives our behavior. And when we divorce our creative side and our administrative side, we begin to separate the “Why” from the “What”.

So how do you actually achieve this? Firstly, let your core values be your guide no matter whether you are writing emails or creating installations. Your core values and and your mission should be the through line in literally everything you do as a business, including your communications, your website design and the operational processes you undertake. Keeping these core values at the heart of everything not only helps to strengthen your overall brand recognition, but also helps to keep you inspired to keep going.

Board Development meetings are much more engaging with toys to inspire creative thought!
Board Development meetings are much more engaging with toys to inspire creative thought!

Next, find ways to include your muses in your overall business environment. It sounds trite, but listening to music or keeping notes in view on my desk from folks who’ve sat in my classes while I work on those blasted spreadsheets helps to create a positive association with the tasks that I need to accomplish to keep this organization going. That positive association makes it more likely that I will think more favorably about Excel the next time I need to work. Literally surrounding yourself with creativity allows creativity to permeate your activities.

Lastly, don’t forget to actually take time to allow yourself to be truly inspired. And I don’t mean going to a show or event. Burnout is one of the fastest ways to kill your artistic career. Hyper focusing on the results our actions achieve is one of the surest ways to drive yourself into strong state of neurosis, or at the very least create a pronounced self of anxiety whenever we think about our to do lists. Instead, focus your efforts on the process and allow yourself to be inspired by yourself. Art is not a journey with a destination but a way of living for those of us who practice it as a career. Getting more likes on Facebook, or a longer email list, or a showing at a particular location may propel your career or do nothing at all. Even with the best education, we are all just throwing it at the wall to see what sticks. Changing my mentality from being results driven to being process driven has saved me a lot of money on the therapist’s couch. Again, this has more to do with keeping the “Why” in mind versus the “what” that we accomplish.

So what are some ways that you keep the “why” in your business practices? Comment below and let us know what works for you!

TechsmARTs Presentation Notes – Using Twitter

A HUGE thank you to Stuart Shapiro from Binders Arts Supplies & Frames for putting together and presenting at our last TechsmARTs event. Stuart did a great job of moving from basic to more advanced information about using Twitter. Included in this post is Stuarts presentation. View it & use it!

TechsmARTS – Using Twitter by Stuart Shapiro


The Switching Costs of Live Art

Life is busy. I get it. I was recently discussing with a friend about how small things like making a dental appointment for my kids seems like such a hassle. But I do it. I do it because I love my kids and I understand the value of good dental health. The cost of NOT taking care of your teeth is much greater than taking ten minutes to make a phone call, pulling your kids out of school and watching crappy t.v. in the waiting room (it’s always between crappy t.v. & crappy magazines). Dental cleanings have a clear value associated with them.

I started thinking about the barriers to experiencing live art. It seems that the forces that stop people from experiencing live art are much, much greater than direct competitors. And it isn’t as simple as just understanding indirect competition. What often stops us, really, are the substitutes to live art, and more specifically: switching costs.

What are switching costs? I like this definition:

The negative costs that a consumer incurs as a result of changing suppliers, brands or products. Although

Photo of three switches
Control panel with swithces in old electricity distribution center.

most prevalent switching costs are monetary in nature, there are also psychological, effort- and time-based switching costs. Read more

So what does this have to do with experiencing art in person? Let’s pretend!

Say I want to take my husband out on a date. Our normal Saturday night routine is hanging out with a glass of wine (or more…don’t judge) at home. We try not to give in too often to the sugar cravings of our kids (remember the dentist) but, hey, it’s a special Saturday. We are also going to rent a video on-demand through our Roku box.

  • Wine – $8 with our Kroger Plus Card (again, don’t judge…Frontera makes a decent Cab-Merlot mix)
  • Candy – $10 for 4 people
  • Movie – $4 for 24 hours through Amazon On Demand

Date Night on a Saturday evening:

  • Theatre tickets for 2 – $70 bucks (and yes, I work for a nonprofit so I know that this price doesn’t even come close to break-even on the total cost to produce)
  • Dinner – $50 (being conservative here) while optional and not directly related to experiencing live art, it still fits within our definition as a psychological factor and actual expense incurred during the switch from movie-at-home to night out with live art.

I don’t even have to add babysitting because I have older kids, but if I did that would make the switching cost even higher.

A photo of a couple watching tv looking very board
Experiencing something new is a good reason to leave the house!

Now, this is not to illustrate how expensive experiencing art can be. In my opinion well worth the expense assuming I pick a good show to see. What I really want to demonstrate is how incredibly important it is to overcome this barrier in the market place. How do we do it? Is your arts businesses even discussing this force?

Tactic 1 – demonstrate value. This will not happen if our only message to the greater community is that art is good for the local economy. It will not happen if art organizations do not get to know the wants, needs and desires of their patrons. It will not happen if you don’t develop relationships with your patrons. How do you do that? Answer: shameless C4 Atlanta plug for one of our services, The Arts & Culture Census. The other method is to purchase a ticketing/CRM system that helps you achieve above goals. Surveys are also useful instruments for pushing and receiving information. Make sure you get a large enough respondent sample to work with (as was the advice of one of our board members when C4 Atlanta sent out a marketing survey).

Tactic 2 – Really great messaging. This goes back to tactic one. You can’t message to the world. Target your message and make it appeal to the part of the human brain that drives behavior–start with the “why.” Before you can do that, you must understand what behavior it is you wish to change: purchasing, signing up for your email list, volunteering, donating. Each behavior may require a different message.

Tactic 3 – Control what you can control. Make seeing your art easy. Whether you are distributing online or in person, offer clean paths to get to your art. I “bail” on websites with too much clutter. There is a lot of noise out there in the world. Cut through it for your patron.

In another blog, we will tackle price, product & promotion. Teaser: lowering or discounting your creative offering isn’t the only tactic for driving sales. In fact, it may work against you…and the rest of the arts economy!

…now I need to make that dental appointment!


KP Bridge Program – August Application Date

On Friday, August 10, 2012 Kaiser Permanente will be accepting applications from eligible C4 Atlanta members in the Kaiser Permanente Bridge Program. Enrollment slots are limited.

Where: Academy Theatre
Time: Register for an application time HERE

Enrollment Guidelines

  • The Applicant must be a current individual member of C4 Atlanta (reserved for full paid members)
  • Eligible C4 Atlanta members may choose from the following training requirements:
  • Option One – C4 Atlanta Individual Member must be actively enrolled in or have completed Ignite, entrepreneurship training seminar for artists. 
  • Option two – C4 Atlanta Individual Member must have completed one of our professional development classes, submit a one-page Artrepreneur Plan (template provided by C4 Atlanta after you sign up for an application slot) and attend an orientation session (day of application).

Orientation will be held twice on August 10, 2012 (application day) at Academy Theatre. This session is mandatory for C4 Atlanta Members who have NOT completed the Ignite Seminar.

Bridge Program Monthly Premiums*

$27.00 – Single Subscriber
$49.00 – Subscriber & Child(ren)
$55.00 – Subscriber & Spouse
$82.00 – Subscriber, Spouse & Child(ren)

*Premiums are subject to change.

Income Guidelines (max income): 

Bridge Program Income Guidelines

Family Size

Monthly Gross Income

Annual Gross Income

























 For each additional person, add


Will Work for Empty Wallets


 image of "uncle sam" & american flag with text: We want YOUR Old Empty Wallets

Sometimes a story hits home a little too hard. Sometimes that story is about American unemployment.

I was actually connected to Heather Hutton through the Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs. Selena Harper (OCA) thought I might be able to provide Heather with some information about resources for artists. Sometimes I know things. Other times I know when to connect people to better resources and information. But I am always willing to try.

Heather and I played email tag for a few weeks but we finally connected by phone. I was out of town for a big chuck of June and she was busy telling the world a story about unemployment.

Will Work for Empty Wallets is a community service art exhibit. The goal of the project:

…To collect 3,000 empty wallets by the end of September to construct a life size replica (11’x20’) of an American Flag.  The project was inspired by a true story and based on the millions of untold stories by citizens in the United States losing jobs, homes, families, etc. due to the lack of economic stability in our country right now. The message is not only to promote awareness about the country’s economic condition, but to help instill a sense of hope for the people out there still struggling to find work. It is a peaceful promotion of community, indivisibility, and liberty for all the citizens in the United States who have been affected by unemployment.  We have currently collecting 1,000 empty wallets.

photo of heather with sign: will work for empty wallets.
Heather Hutton

I realized in addition to collecting wallets, Heather is collecting stories. These are the true stories of a nation affected by job loss. I think most of you reading this blog knows of a friend or family member who was laid off within the last three years. I was laid off in 2010. I don’t want to go too deep into my story, because this post is not about me.

I wanted to post information about Heather’s project because her story resonates deeply within arts community. In our Ignite class, participates talk a little about themselves the first day. During one session, we half joked that we could start a support group for those of us who have been recently laid off. Other artists are not unemployed, but severely underemployed. Artist work. They work hard, but they are not always working consistently or being paid a livable wage.

A co-inki-dink! It also turns out that a friend of mine (Joanna Brooks) with SCAD’s MFA Film program is part of a team collecting stories through a documentary film about the Empty Wallets project. I decided to write this blog before I knew of Jo’s involvement in the project. Life is funny.

I can’t wait to see this art project come together. Each wallet contains a story, and I think it is worth pausing to listen.

If you want to know more about the Will Work for Empty Wallets project or how you can donate an empty wallet (or two):

The Georgia Department of Labor is collecting empty wallets at all the unemployment offices in the state of Georgia.  To find a career center near you, visit www.dol.state.ga.us.  The Savannah College of Art and Design is filming a documentary on the progress of this project and we would love to include your story in this unique documentary. There is a cash prize for whomever donates the most wallets.

Photo of Empty Wallets
Donated Empty Wallets

For more information email: hhutton@mgc.edu or follow this project on Facebook









More Resources:

Metro Pulse Blog


Knight Arts Blog


Paying It Forward – the story that inspired the wallet project