"How do we then make this city of Atlanta a great center of arts and culture?"
No, we don't have MoMA, Guggenheim, PS1... or SAIC or... the Bean that makes you feel better about being warped and being an artist. No, Atlanta is not a great walking city nor an efficient transportation city and it is slow. Right, Atlanta is so polished, somewhat restraining for young artists with this raw urge of creativity. When an artist puts something like "working in New York" or "Brooklyn-based artist," all sudden, it sounds legit and cool.
Yet Atlanta has a huge potential in becoming a great city of arts. It won't look like New York or Chicago or LA, and it shouldn't. I am going to be an optimist here.
I was talking to Louis Corrigan about this very specific issue after the Momentary Performance at Piedmont Park last Saturday. And we both anticipate of Atlanta becoming something of great. But we have to find ways to hold young artists in Atlanta. There have been a few energetic non-profit arts organization like Flux Projects, Possible Futures, or Idea Capital that sponsor interesting projects for artists. Swan Coach House Gallery supports local emerging artists through its prestigious Forward Arts Foundations Award (2010 winner is Lucha Rodriguez). And there are many amazing spaces for artists to explore. Cathy Fox's ArtsCriticATL and BURNAWAY have been diligently putting a list of cultural happenings in Atlanta with critical reviews. Hey... this is a lot of stuff happening in the city.
Cinque Hicks writes interesting articles on his Frame of Mind column (Creative Loafing, Atlanta). He specifically talks about this issue on this article, Artists should embrace Atlanta's open playing field.
Some quotes from the article -
Atlanta loses a steady stream of creatives every year. Seeking better public funding, smarter collectors, more adventurous galleries, and more powerful critics, artists go where those resources seem abundant. And you know where that usually turns out to be....
... I'm not making an argument that one city is better or worse for artists than any other city. But I am arguing that Atlanta's anonymity, its very formlessness, may be what makes it possible, even beneficial, to be an artist here.
So dear young artists,
I would like to make a plea. Consider staying in Atlanta. And if you are living somewhere else and thinking about your next place to live and make art, consider Atlanta. I will open my arms wide to welcome you! With our raw, not-so polished energy and urgency to create and live creatively... we possibly can make the city of Atlanta into something we imagine it to be - for us.