As artistic director of Little Five Arts Alive (L5AA), I developed and curated a three-year creative placemaking project supported by ArtPlace America. L5AA was a free, outdoor performing arts festival, presenting live, interactive and performing arts on two plazas in an independent business district with programming every Saturday and Sunday for six months a year. In three years, I have programmed and supported over 300 individual artists, including dancers, musicians, sculptors, filmmakers and theatre makers. The work was simultaneously designed to foster collaboration across a fractured community, to increase public safety, promote community and economic development, and to engage the City of Atlanta with creative placemaking activities leading to a formal program being developed within the city government.
Throughout this project, I have worked closely with over three hundred artists and art organizations as well as business owners, neighborhood organizations, City Council members, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Mayor’s Office of Special Events and the Atlanta Police Department. I have also worked closely with homeless and marginalized groups who often occupy the spaces we are activating. I designed the programming to be inclusive and to welcome anyone’s participation; the art provides a positive creative experience for anyone who wishes to participate.
In addition to providing free creative activities for audiences from all walks of life, the program also supports and nurtures artistic innovation. It functions as a platform for artists to push their practice into a social sphere. It also lets artists from different disciplines meet and connect, both through cross-programming as well as through a regular artist gathering we host, allowing cross pollination of artists and individuals.
Fundamentally, this project addresses a complex set of social and legislative issues that come to a head in this particular area. I have leveraged the arts programming as a way for stakeholders with radically different needs to have a common ground to start finding solutions for some really sticky issues including zoning, gentrification, business licensing, policing, and more.