By JULIA DANIEL
Arts service organization C4 Atlanta has found a way to spotlight its member artists by participating in the First Thursdays Downtown Arts Walk event. FUSE Arts Center
is a co-working space for arts entrepreneurs as well as a gallery space that is owned and operated by C4. The nonprofit is looking to utilize the space to provide exhibition venue to its member artists. This accomplishes its mission of connecting arts entrepreneurs to the people, skills and tools they need to build a successful career in the metro area. This serves both the artists in the community as well as the art loving public on a budget. In line with the First Thursdays Downtown spirit, all shows are free and open to the public.
“About a year ago, we started thinking of ways in which FUSE could serve as more of an asset to the community, both the local artists and the art appreciators,” said Jessyca Holland, C4 Atlanta Executive Director. “So we came up with idea of hosting C4 Atlanta member shows as part of First Thursdays Downtown Art Walk.”
Artists can become members of C4 by paying annual dues of $40 and are then eligible to participate in First Thursday programming as a way to reach potential buyers and to build up resumes. This is especially helpful for artists who must provide proof of previous exhibition experience for apprenticeships and graduate school applications. It can also enhance eligibility for grant funding and project sponsorship from larger corporations in the community.
Deputy Director Joe Winter believes the member shows provide more than just a platform for showcasing artistic talent. “The FUSE gallery space provides a place for artists to learn professional practice.”
Winter calls attention to the fact that most self-employed artists in the area have never exhibited anywhere before as the market is difficult to break into without solid networking connections and expendable income. Renting gallery space is expensive. The use of 501(c)(3) funding to provide the necessary space to these artists is a much-needed resource. The concept has already proved popular in cities like Nashville and Philadelphia, and C4’s directors believe that Atlanta may be primed and ready for similar results.
C4 retains an 8 percent administration fee and then redistributes the grant money toward fiscally sponsored projects. All of this in a bid to re-brand the nonprofit that has previously maintained that it is not in the business of producing or promoting art. The fiscal sponsorship program, ArtsForce, has already seen three Atlanta area arts projects completed since its debut last May including a documentary on how arts education impacts the lives of children in underprivileged communities. All projects must be submitted for approval to C4 Atlanta’s board of directors and must examine art in the context of community engagement with Atlanta as a geographic area of focus.
FUSE’s participation in First Thursdays Downtown Art Walk would not be successful if the public was not willing to show up and show support for the arts in its community. The Downtown neighborhood has noticed an influx in college-aged patrons since implementing the one night only free art exhibitions. Whether it’s a date night for two or a group outing of 10 or more, those who are conscious of their budget get to experience art in a format they may never have before.
Anyone interested can find more information about C4 Atlanta membership and member show opportunities on the organization’s website. More information on First Thursdays Downtown Art Walk and other participating galleries can be found by visiting the Central AtlantaProgress website.