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.

Announcing Hatch Training Intensive Selection Committee

Our Fall Hatch Training Intensive is right around the corner and applications are currently open for interested artists. C4 Atlanta is excited to announce our distinguished selection committee who will be choosing our next artist cohort for this program. We are excited to have the following esteemed public art professionals:

Katherine Dirga – Program Manager Arts Administration, MARTA Artbound
Brandon Jones – Head of the Creative Placemaking, WonderRoot
Josh Philipson – Principal Program Specialist, Arts & Culture, Atlanta Regional Commission 

Applications for Hatch close on August 14, 2017 at 11:59pm. For more information about this program, please visit the Hatch Training Page.

Click Here to Apply for Hatch.

Artists and City Planning

This past Sunday, the Hatch cohort was joined by Center Forward’s Heather Alhadeff and Allison Bustin.

MARTA Improvement rendering, Midtown Alliance
MARTA Improvement rendering, Midtown Alliance

Heather and Allison are city planners. Heather is the founder of Center Forward and her work history as a planner is quite extensive. Audrey Gámez, C4’s Education Manager, will recap this past Hatch session in a later blog, but I wanted to take a few moments to capture a brainstorm that came out of this lesson. Heather asked the artists if they could see themselves in the various stages of planning. Those stages include:

The Planning Process. Image by Center Forward
The Planning Process. Image by Center Forward

For posterity sake: I want to capture the brainstorm. Also, I hope that these ideas will one day come to fruition. Some are bigger than others but we need to dream big…and fund big. The community has an opportunity to really be more engaged in the city’s civic life. Artists can make that happen in Atlanta. Artists can help planners with:

Visioning & Goals

“Laugh Track” – a sound installation in MARTA that plays the laughs of people in the community – bringing joy to transportation
Gallery curation of unfinished art – artist discuss the art process – “demystify” the artistic process
Clean neighborhoods – theatre, murals, performance art that excites residents (see opera example below)
Public museum – community space – connecting neighborhoods

Data Collection

Mobile Town Hall with artists/create asset map for the community
Sketch Up and Google Maps layered on asset map
City-wide or neighborhood wide art geo-cache
Snapchat feeds of citizens at community gatherings

Assessment of Conditions

Street Curators – Give an artist team to fill with art (with community members)
Tour map for residents to discover art – residents could collect info about street conditions between art points
Graphic novel presentation of plans
Waze for sidewalks – people input info about sidewalk issues

Public & Client Approval
Mobile Town Hall – Artists do the asking using art
A street potluck with art
Food, Not Bombs Potluck (family dinning for the whole community)
Community gift trading, gifts can reaffirm the project goals
Artist created brochure that uses images to convey data findings, etc.
Public meetings announced by art in MARTA
Babysitters at community meetings – arts & crafts with kids
Speed meet & greets  with elected officials (2 minutes tops to voice concerns)


Play Me, I’m Yours – Street Pianos 
Mobil Shower – Art piece incorporated
Artists interacting with kids, seniors, and other riders at MARTA stations. They capture stories.
People as airline-like stewards on MARTA: hand out towelettes, etc.
Black Feminist Opera like the one in NOLA – residents made sure their neighborhoods were clean when they knew the opera would be there
Public facing artist database that connects the public to individual artist’s works with street map
Potholes covered with mosaic tiles
Curate a pothole
Theatre babysitting night

Of course, these ideas may be moved from category to category. The visioning & goals phases could simply utilize the imagination of artists to problem solve. There are so many possibilities. Cities in other states are starting to recognize the contribution artists can make to the planning process. My hope is that Atlanta will also lead in this area.


Transportation, Arts & the Long Commute to Nowhere

Guest Post By Rebecca Holohan, C4 Atlanta Artist Member

The ladies on the #5 bus take their places

Photo of the inside of a MARTA train.
Photo: Marge Curtis

every morning, trade gum, mints, cookies,
scratch tickets, Kleenex as we lurch
down Piedmont Road. One’s always telling
the others some story, like the time she fished
with gummy worms as bait, you shoulda seen their faces…

When they laugh it’s a sharp loud chorus
punctuating the groggy morning commute
there’s one who always whoops
and one who cackles
and one who snorts
and that lady in the corner who always chuckles
not sure if she’s in on the joke…

The mist covers the heavy skyline,
blurs the harsh buildings of Buckhead,
as our bus rattles on, cackle wheeze
snort whoop, a morning holler,
a groaning bus, the ding of the line you pull
for your stop, traffic swimming around us,
this wide rusty ship that carries us all to work, or somewhere…

I moved to Atlanta a year ago as a recent college graduate and young writer and artist. I couldn’t afford a car when I came here, and relied on MARTA buses to find my way around the city.

I realized early on that navigating the public transportation system of Atlanta was a journey through the race and class landscape of the city. To understand the situation, I had to understand the context of MARTA, its funding, its legislative battles, who it was meant to serve and who benefits from its failures to provide true access to the city for those who cannot afford a car. Unlike other cities I had lived in, where people of varying races, genders, and economic classes all rode public transportation, Atlanta’s transportation was strongly segregated.

Photo of inside a MARTA station. Artwork over the Breeze Card Machines.
Photo: Marge Curtis

I was often the only young white woman on the buses, and depending on which bus line I rode, the other passengers seemed somewhat puzzled when they noticed me. A few times people asked if I was a student, attempting to “place” me. Many white people I met seemed even more puzzled by my situation—I was college-educated, white, from an affluent background, and yet rode the buses? They wondered aloud how I could even live here without a car. They asked why my parents wouldn’t help me buy a car. They were confused, sometimes incredulous, or pitying. One person joked, “I guess you don’t know what MARTA really stands for…Moving African-Americans Rapidly Through Atlanta!” This remark further confirmed for me that the historic legacy and present reality of racism deeply shape the discourse around public transportation in Atlanta. The Atlanta Transportation Equity Project  at Clark Atlanta University cites “transit racism and transportation apartheid” as “major factors that have kept [Metro Atlanta] racially, economically, and spatially divided.”

What does all of this mean for art and the creative economy? How is the art scene in Atlanta shaped by segregation, poverty, and lack of access? The poem above was one of the only pieces I wrote during the winter months, when the stress of little money and reliance on MARTA drained my creative energy and left me with a writer’s block the size of Texas. The art we produce when we are in survival mode is different from art birthed from a place of support, resources, artistic community, and inspiration. Not having a car limited my access to arts venues, arts organizations, and other resources. During my first weeks in Atlanta, I tried to pursue opportunities as a teaching artist. These efforts were futile, however, because I needed a way to get to schools, a way to be there on time, and a way to transport materials. I discovered that in Atlanta, as a young artist without a car, I was unable to contribute fully my talents and skills. My story is far from unique, given the systemic inequities that exist here in Atlanta and across the nation.

Wonderful art comes from Atlanta, and it comes from artists and communities across the spectrum of race, gender and socioeconomic class. I write simply to highlight the important intersection of two questions: 1) Why does public transportation inequity in Atlanta matter? and 2) What conditions foster a thriving, bustling creative economy in a city? These questions are inextricable because public transportation creates and reinforces social and economic divides, which influences who can participate in the creative economy and in what ways. I envision the vibrancy, diversity, and deep expansion of art and artistic community that is possible when everyone can access, create and share art and artistic community.

I care about public transportation in Atlanta not only because of my own experience struggling to access the city, but because the questions about MARTA and access are part of a much larger conversation about entrenched institutional racism, the violence of history, how we define who is in “our community,” and what kinds of artists and artistic expressions we value. By limiting who can afford to create art, experience art, and share their art with the diverse Atlanta communities, we deprive ourselves of the true richness that comes from having everyone’s voices at the table.

There are many opportunities to address the transportation crisis and questions of access to the creative economy. For arts organizations hosting classes, workshops, performances, and other events, consider whether the locations you choose would be accessible to someone riding MARTA. What communities and potential audiences in Atlanta have you overlooked? What barriers exist to the public accessing your organization or performances? Do you feature artists and performances that appeal to a wide range of audiences?

On the legislative front, residents across the 10-county Atlanta region including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties, as well as the City of Atlanta will have the chance on July 31, 2012, to vote on a referendum that would fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements through a regional one percent sales tax. It is an investment in the arts, the creative economy, and the city and people of Atlanta to join the conversation about transportation and vote this July.

Riding with the ladies of the #5 bus, I understood that creative people find expression everywhere. We make art to understand our communities, our world, and ourselves. We make art to tell the truth and to explore the edges of our human experience. Inclusive and accessible artistic communities serve the same function as great works of art: they wake us up to the beauty and pain of our lives, ask us hard questions, and offer us immeasurable gifts if we are willing to do the work to receive them.

Train coming into the MARTA Station
Photo: Marge Curtis

Rebecca Holohan is a poet, writer, activist and youth worker originally from Boston, MA. She loves exploring new places, building community, and creative collaborations with passionate people.