Tag: Atlanta Beltline

Collins Goss Talks About Raising Awareness for Atlanta Arts

As you may know, March is National Women’s History Month, and yesterday was International Women’s Day. 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.

Collins Goss, Development Manager of Horizon Theatre
Collins Goss, Development Manager of Horizon Theatre

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

Where do you work and what do you do? I work as the Development Manager for the Horizon Theatre Company. I am in charge of all of Horizon’s fundraising efforts, including the annual fund, major gifts, foundation grants, government contracts for services, and special events. I also work closely with our Board of Directors, and I do a chunk of the project management work for Horizon’s community-based projects.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? Honestly, I never really had a set goal. Most kids would list teacher, nurse, vet, doctor, but I never had a specific thing that I knew I wanted to do.

Who was your favorite artist/writer/performer growing up? I loved to read growing up, so most of my favorite artists were writers. I could not get enough of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series as a teenager. I really, really loved classic lit like Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, Peter Pan, Little House on the Prairie, etc.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you? I have been so lucky to have had several wonderful influencers and mentors. I had two teachers in high school who blew my world wide open: one was from South Africa and one was from Queens. They somehow ended up teaching in South Georgia where I grew up, and they exposed me to a world much larger than I had known. My biggest influences, though, are definitely my parents. In my completely unbiased opinion, they are the greatest people on earth who give and love unconditionally and who get up every day to make the world better even when it is really hard and no one says thank you. They taught (and still teach) me so many things, but “thank you” was a big one. Everyone is worthy of your attention and gratitude no matter who they are.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work? I took dance lessons from preschool through high school. I wasn’t very good, but I enjoyed it and still enjoy being a dance patron. I got into theatre the way a lot of kids do: my friends in high school were in the one act play and spring musical. I wanted in on the fun too. The alternative was playing basketball or jumping hurdles, and no one wants me to do either one. Yikes. I think I started unofficially working in some aspect of arts admin in high school and just never stopped. I am still not quite sure how that happened.

How is art a passion for you? Art is something that you can enjoy all of your life, and there is always a new show, art form, or artist to discover. The ability to keep discovering is what makes art a passion for me.

What are your thoughts on equality and representation of women in the arts? I work in an office of all women, and this has been the norm in most of my jobs in arts admin. I don’t know if that is typical or not, but I think it is awesome. Working in the arts full time is not easy. The hours can be long and the days frustrating, but women get stuff done and totally defy the odds. 🙂

Horizon Theatre presents Avenue Q to local audiences at Piedmont Park
Horizon Theatre presents Avenue Q to local audiences at Piedmont Park

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? The first thing that comes to mind is working on Theatre in the Park last summer. Horizon produced Avenue Q in Piedmont Park for a five night run in June 2015. That’s right. We produced a full scale Broadway musical outside in the middle of Atlanta in June with 28 puppets, a band, and 11 actors. Most of the tickets were given away for free, and we had more than 7700 people join us in the park that week. Moments like this are the reason I got into this business. All these people from all over the Atlanta area left their houses and Netflix to come outside, sit on a blanket, eat a picnic, and watch puppets sing about growing up and finding their purpose. Would I do it again? Heck yes.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta? Atlanta artists and administrators just make it happen in Atlanta, and their work is amazing. No one seems to take no for an answer, and I think that is pretty cool. There has been a lot of talk about Atlanta’s public art scene, and I am really excited to see what comes out of this. We have tons of space that could benefit from an art intervention: the Little Five Points plaza (Horizon is tackling this one starting in April, so stay tuned!), MARTA stations, and so many more.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community? I would really like to be a part of raising awareness of all the arts offerings in Atlanta and the impact the arts have on our communities. There are several individuals and arts organizations that are committed to advocating for the arts whether it is on the government level, among business leaders, or with individual patrons. I am really excited about an audience development project I am working on with the Atlanta Intown Theatre Partnership (AITP). AITP is made up of Horizon, 7 Stages, Actor’s Express, the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern and Theatrical Outfit, and we are committed to pooling resources and doing things together that we could not do as individual theatres. Currently we want to raise live theatre going as a top of mind thing to do among 20-40 year olds who live/work/play along the Atlanta Beltline. We are still in the very early stages of the project, but I see tremendous potential for success.

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

www.horizontheatre.com

Twitter: @horizontheatre

Facebook: Horizon Theatre Company

Instagram: @horizontheatre

Little Five Arts Alive Program launching in April 2016: http://www.littlefiveartsalive.com/

Bio?

Collins Goss (Development Manager) joins the Horizon Theatre Company after working for the University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance. At UA Theatre & Dance, she served as the digital communications, marketing, and patron services managers throughout her three years. She has also worked for the Texas Shakespeare Festival and Rose of Athens Theatre in Athens, GA. No matter the location, audience development and communication have been the focus of her work, and she is excited to be a part of the staff and community at the Horizon Theatre. Collins completed her MFA in Theatre Management from the University of Alabama in December and has BA degrees in English and Theatre from the University of Georgia.

5 Ways to Get Involved With Your Community

Where to start?

This month, with elections looming in the future and lots of important issues that affect individual artists in Atlanta, including a LOT of complicated issues with urban development, I’m fired up to give other artists the resources to get out and be of greater impact in your community.

If I’m perfectly honest, I would be remiss to have you believing that I’ve been the most active and vocal participant in my community. Before working for C4 Atlanta, there were many issues that I cared about, but time and a lack of knowledge of resources hindered my ability to get myself involved with the things I cared about. It’s only been over the last two or so years that I’ve become a more active part of my community. That’s why I’m excited about today’s blog post. Anyone with limited time and resources who wants to be a part of what’s going on with advocacy for artists can do at least one of these things.

So if you’d like to be more active in finding out what’s going on and helping to inform the decisions made in our community, here’s some simple tips to get involved:

1. Go to things

C4 Founder and Executive Director at a Fulton County Budget Hearing
C4 Founder and Executive Director at a Fulton County Budget Hearing

Seriously, get off your butt and go to stuff. The best ways to find out what’s going on is to be present when it’s going on. Social Media is a great resource for finding out what is going on and where things are happening.  Go to your neighborhood association meetings, your NPU (neighborhood planning unit) meetings, Beltline planning meetings, county budget hearings, school board meetings, panels with city officials, and literally anything else that impacts your career and life as an artist in Atlanta that interests you. Angry about big box stores being built in your neighborhood or lack of affordable housing and studio spaces? Show up in the places where people decide these kinds of things. Your presence in the community is important, and elected and community officials take notice of who comes and who votes for them. Make it a point to go to things and be seen, and others will take notice of your efforts. Better yet, bring your artist friends, too. There is power in numbers. Not sure where to go or what to attend? Start with your local NPU or Neighborhood Association Meeting. A lot of local city planning and ordinances are discussed in these meetings, and it’s a great way to meet other folks who do important things within the community and find out about other goings on.

2. Speak Up

Recent Beltline Network Meeting featuring a panel that included artist Neil Carver
Recent Beltline Network Meeting featuring a panel that included artist Neil Carver

When you attend community functions and meetings, speak up. Say your name, where you live, and ask questions about things you want to know. Don’t feel intimidated to let your voice be heard and ask about things you don’t understand even if you know there are others in the room who may have a greater understanding of all the factors involved. Elected officials will also want to know whether or not you vote, so if you do, they are more likely to take greater notice of your participation. If you don’t voice your thoughts, no one else will. As both a member of an arts organization and an independent creative professional, I can tell you that organizations and artists have very different issues that they care about and very different power in the community. Advocating for the ARTS is not necessarily the same as advocating for ARTISTS and arts professionals. Issues like affordable housing, education and health care apply as much to individual artists as they do to everyone and can be even more important to the sustainability of our lifestyles and careers. The only way people will know what you care about is if you tell them.

3. Be A Joiner

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Too often we artists feel like the employees who put up this tip jar.

If you really want to be of greater impact in your community, consider joining your neighborhood association, school group, or a nonprofit who’s mission lights a fire in your heart (C4 ATLANTA!). Facebook and Google can help you find groups to connect with if you aren’t sure where the causes you care about are located in the community. Connecting with other people who are united together for a cause has impact, and will also connect you to other resources so that you can become more involved and in the know. Again, individual artists and arts workers have different issues of interest than organizations. Even if the entity join is not arts related, your presence as an creative professional within their mission has weight and validity.  You also don’t have to commit to being president of the committee in order to volunteer or join and organization. Every organization has different needs, and most have many different ways to get involved.

4. Read and Educate Yourself

My community. Mural by unknown artist.
My community. Mural by unknown artist.

A voice is only as powerful as the truth it speaks. Educate yourself on issues within your community, your industry, trends, economy, politics, etc. Know your worth as an artist in the community! Americans for the Arts has some great research regarding the economic impact of artists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides a wealth of wage data for every profession in the U.S. based on census data. If fair wage for artists is important to you, check out the organization W.A.G.E. which certifies producing/presenting arts organizations who pay artists a fair living wage for their work. They will soon have an individual certification available for artists who vow to only work for fair wage. With the plethora of presidential candidates in the mix at the moment, it can feel overwhelming to try educate your self on the platforms of different candidates. Arts Action Fund presents a snapshot of each current presidential candidate and their views on the arts. The information is easily digestible to anyone and provides key data about each candidate’s state artistic economy for comparison. The Arts Action Fund uses the #ArtVote2016 on social media to highlight key issues and questions during debates. They have also compiled reports regarding congressional voting records for arts related legislation and included a grading system for lawmakers. ArtsGeorgia is a local Georgia advocacy group that offers information and helps to promote issues related to arts and culture in the political sphere. There is a wealth of information related to the arts available on their website.

5. Vote!!!!

As much as you can talk and act and join and show up in your community, without actually voting for the people responsible for making larger decisions, you are heavily limiting the scope of your individual power to affect change. And if you don’t vote, elected officials are far less likely to take your presence seriously. Elected officials have to speak to you if you ask. It might not be timely, but they’ll do it. Because that’s their job. Having greater efficacy in your talk can depend on whether you are an active voter in their constituency. And if you don’t know who your elected officials are, especially those at the local level, go find out.

C4 Atlanta keeps our members and stakeholders abreast of interests and issues in arts advocacy and advocating for arts workers. If you’d like to learn more about these issues, join our monthly newsletter and indicate your interest in arts advocacy.


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