Part of this year's Spotlight on the Arts festival, the UGA Arts Council's annual arts and culture celebration (see Art Notes for more), Saturday's College Square concert is the latest of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts' attempts to bridge the cultural and economic gaps that separate Athens and the university while encouraging innovation on both fronts, says Willson Center director Nicholas Allen.
"I was looking around for ways that the university and city could best combine to do things that might give us a competitive advantage over other places of learning and creativity," says Allen.
"The world is becoming a more interconnected place. It's obvious in places like Austin, [TX], the transformative effect these kinds of events have had."
True to that spirit, this weekend's event is a bona fide town-and-gown collaboration. For this year's Spotlight centerpiece, the Willson Center partnered with the Slingshot Festival, the emerging multimedia happening whose primary goal is to transform Athens into a global arts destination.
Connections made through the event's co-sponsor, UGA's Music Business program, as well as support from the Athens Downtown Development Authority, helped make the outdoor concert a reality.
"Like Slingshot," Allen says, "we want to create events [throughout] the year, where people around the world will think, 'I'd love to be in Athens tonight'… You might not have thought of this at Harvard [or] Yale. But you can absolutely do it at the University of Georgia."