The Atlanta BeltLine Inc. plans to partner with the National Black Arts Festival on a public art project.
The announcement follows a controversy about a photo display on the Beltline. ABI issued a public apology for photos displayed near the Martin Luther King Blvd. section of the Westside Trail.
The controversial display featured photos from Canine CellMates, a nonprofit that uses therapy dogs to help Fulton County Jail prisoners. Many residents felt the display was insensitive and reinforced negative stereotypes of incarcerated African-American males.
“Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) and the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) are launching a new collaboration to enhance Art on the Atlanta BeltLine in Atlanta BeltLine neighborhoods,” the announcement from ABI says. “Working together, the two organizations will reach more communities and more artists, share resources and knowledge, and support and promote artists to continually push for a positive, diverse public art experience in Atlanta.”
Here is the full announcement from ABI:
ATLANTA – Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) and the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) are launching a new collaboration to enhance Art on the Atlanta BeltLine in Atlanta BeltLine neighborhoods. Working together, the two organizations will reach more communities and more artists, share resources and knowledge, and support and promote artists to continually push for a positive, diverse public art experience in Atlanta.
ABI is in the process of reevaluating its public art program with the goal of greater equity, access, and inclusion across the cultural sector. Over the last few months, ABI has held meetings in order to receive feedback from communities with their suggestions for Art on the Atlanta BeltLine and other programming.
Results of the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine community engagement process highlighted an opportunity for greater outreach and connection to a more diverse group of artists from the juried selection through the final visual and performance works. ABI and NBAF will work to accomplish these goals by bringing together world-class art professionals, enriching artistic programming, and greater diversity in planning and implementation. This new partnership is the first step in a series of new collaborations that will reshape how Art on the Atlanta BeltLine connects with the broader community.
NBAF features year-round artistic and educational programming and is recognized as the oldest multidisciplinary arts organization in the United States focused exclusively on the arts and artists of African descent. Art on the Atlanta BeltLine is the largest outdoor, temporary public art exhibition in the south. By augmenting one another’s efforts in performances, commissioned works, and visual art programs, NBAF and ABI can continue to uplift a wide range of artists so that they flourish in Atlanta’s global arts and culture scene.
“NBAF is honored to be a collaborative partner with ABI to enhance Art on the Atlanta Beltline. Our 30 year legacy of supporting artist of African descent uniquely positions us to support the goals of this project – as we continue to showcase and support Atlanta’s emerging and seasoned visual artists as they strive to reach new heights in their professions”, said Vikki Millender-Morrow, President & CEO of National Black Arts Festival.
“The National Black Arts Festival is a leader in multidisciplinary arts, and we are thrilled to collaborate with such a respected organization,” said Brian McGowan, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “We look to partners like NBAF for growth and learning opportunities, and we welcome the chance to make Art on the Atlanta BeltLine more inclusive and diverse.”
Thriving cultural activity can serve as a foundation for healthy communities by strengthening community identity, promoting diversity and inclusion, improving literacy and educational outcomes, supporting social justice and neighborhood cohesion, creating opportunities to instill a commitment to civic participation, and increasing safety and public health. The Atlanta BeltLine corridor is connecting 45 neighborhoods, and it is a core tenet of the project to encourage them all to thrive.
Writer Gabriel Owens contributed to this story.