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Finding Funding: Athens Arts Orgs Team Up to Create Opportunities

Shelter Projects: Though artists and musicians are required to take a break from expressing themselves in person on gallery walls or venue stages, the lockdown has remained a productive time for many who are working diligently at home. Recognizing the urgency of our collective situation, UGA’s Willson Center, through the Office of Research and in partnership with UGA’s Graduate School, Arts Council, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and Flagpole, launched a mini-fellowship program called “Shelter Projects,” to support graduate students and community-based artists and practitioners. These $500 mini-fellowships fund tangible reflections on experiences of the current pandemic through a variety of media, including music, installation art, film, writing, painting, sculpture and spoken word. A total of 34 micro-fellowships were awarded, with familiar faces including musicians like Jace Bartet (Bit Brigade), Hannah Jones (New Sound of Numbers), Jesse Kennedy (Wild Abandon) and James Wilson, plus visual artists like Ruth Allen, Cindy Jerrell, Chris Taylor and Cheryl Washburn. Projects will be completed while sheltering in place and adhering to CDC guidelines, and will be shared periodically through Flagpole as well as during UGA’s Spotlight on the Arts festival in November. Go to willson.uga.edu to see the full list of recipients. 

Athens Arts Alliance: At the onset of the sheltering in place ordinance, representatives of various local arts organizations began meeting virtually each week: ATHICA, Georgia Museum of Art, Athens Area Arts Council, tiny ATH gallery, Get Artistic at Creature Comforts, Flagpole, Lyndon House Arts Center, ACC Arts Division, Athens Downtown Development Authority and Athens Cultural Affairs Commission. This informal group, nicknamed the Athens Arts Alliance, quickly focused its energy into compiling an updated list of resources for artists. Additionally, the group administered a survey to collect feedback on how members of the artistic community have been financially impacted by the pandemic. As expected, the responses indicate a significant loss of income among most participants, with other challenges that include separation from creative partners, event cancellations and inability to access sources of relief. The AAA hopes this survey will help educate the local government while planning the Athens Resiliency Package and other arts initiatives. Survey responses and interpretations can be read in full on Flagpole’s blog

Athens Banner Project: Taking inspiration from the public poster art of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, the Athens Banner Project is the first artist relief opportunity to emerge. Five artists who work in the service, hospitality or retail industries, and who have become under- or unemployed due to the pandemic, will receive $350 each in exchange for banner designs. Funded by the Athens Downtown Development Authority, these vinyl banners will be distributed to 130 downtown storefronts to spread encouraging messages of resiliency and unity this summer. Visit athensarts.org for the announcement of selected artists. 

Krysia Ara Krysia Ara’s “Community Flow”

Athens Pop-Up Park: ACC Leisure Services’ new mobile outreach program, Athens Pop-Up Park, presents another exciting opportunity for artists to participate in public art. In addition to offering passenger transport and tours, a newly acquired minibus will be used to bring creative programming and activities to various neighborhoods and events throughout the year. Leisure Services is seeking a local artist or team to design a bus wrap that conceptually embodies the mission of the program and will pay $800 for the selected artwork. The deadline to apply is June 5, and the official request for proposal can be found on athensclarkecounty.com/9391

Arts in Community Awards: Dedicated to promoting creative place-making, the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission’s Arts in Community Awards have funded a variety of events, activities and public art projects over the years. At a voting session last month, the Mayor and Commission unanimously voted to expand funding for the program by adding $85,000 from the Athens Resiliency Package to the ACAC’s own $15,000 AICG budget. This round of funding will be 20 times larger than ever before, and is intended to support artists, musicians and other members of the creative community who have been financially impacted by the pandemic by providing approximately 50 awards of $2,000 each. Guidelines and applications should be posted any day now, so check athensculturalaffairs.org for updates. 

Community Flow for Local Aid: Raising aid through art, mosaicist Krysia Ara developed a unique project that allows supporters to choose which community cause they’d like to support. Combining fragments of mirror with pieces of painted ceramics left over from her recent “Flow” mosaic in the Cobbham Triangle Park, Ara created a total of 27 hangable mosaics in three different sizes and correlating price tiers. The pieces create one long, meandering river when lined up beside each other, and the movement within the mirror’s reflections captures the spirited energy of rushing water. Keeping two pieces for her own art garden, she sold the other 25 works within the first 24 hours or so, with 75 percent of each sale adding up to over $7,000 in donations for local aid. Moving forward, Ara would like to keep the “Community Flow” going on a commission basis. To request a work or see behind-the-scenes process shots from Ara’s studio, visit creativeflow.art

Jessica Smith

On the Cover: This week’s Flagpole cover features an oil painting by Joe Ruiz, from this year’s juried exhibition at the Lyndon House Arts Center. Ruiz says, “My painting, ‘When Justice Kneels…’ (oil on canvas), is about a justice system that helps only the well-connected or rich; the sword of justice is blunted, and the world starts to burn as a consequence.” The Lyndon House reopened to the public on June 2, with precautions in place. The exhibition, which has been extended through July, can also be explored using the hashtag #45JuriedShowOnline on social media.

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