Last week, local artists and arts leaders gathered at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center to welcome a distinguished guest: Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
The NEA is in the midst of a yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary, but that celebration is not about resting on the laurels won from decades of hard-fought battles and artistic accomplishments. Instead, Chu has launched a new initiative called "Creativity Connects," a massive research and grant project with three components: an investigation of artistic infrastructure, a mapping of the nation's creativity and a new grant program connecting the arts with other traditionally non-arts sectors.
The first component – investigating America's artistic infrastructure – involves formal research as well as town halls and roundtables across the United States. Atlanta is one of only 10 cities chosen for the roundtable research tour.
While in the city, Chu held her small roundtable with representatives from the Georgia Council for the Arts, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Later the same day, those organizations presented the Town Hall. Audience questions touched on issues like arts marketing, arts stereotypes and, of course, funding.
Chu's whirlwind tour included visits to Spelman College, Stone Mountain's ART Station, True Colors Theatre Company, the Woodruff Arts Center and the Goat Farm Arts Center.
The arts roundtables conclude in late March, and Chu expects the research and accompanying interactive infographic to be released some time this summer.
"Creativity Connects" grants are now open for applications; the deadline is March 3.