$100,000 in grants go to 10 Atlanta arts groups in a mix of corporate and local support

Artists win big when A&E Atlanta, Orange Barrel Media and BIG Outdoor collaborate on downtown projects.

The modern version of the Medicis underwriting artists in 15th century Italy, in Atlanta it is often companies like WarnerMedia, Mailchimp, Georgia Pacific, Delta Airlines and the Coca-Cola Company that have filled in gaps in supporting art and artists when mercurial government funding flags.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

One company making a unique impact in that regard is Orange Barrel Media. The digital advertising company has offices in Columbus, Ohio; Los Angeles; New York; Chicago; Charlotte, North Carolina; and a single employee in Atlanta. But OBM has been making an outsize impact in Atlanta through its partnership with ADID Arts & Entertainment Atlanta to support collaborations with local curatorial groups like DASH and curator Karen Comer Lowe, and by helping bring national attention to emerging artists like Jurell Cayetano, Ariel Dannielle, Shanequa Gay and Gerald Lovell by highlighting their work on digital signs and in activations throughout downtown Atlanta.

As Pete Scantland, founder and CEO of Orange Barrel Media and a prominent Columbus art collector and VP of the Columbus Museum of Art board of trustees told the AJC, working with local arts organization to enliven the city is core to the company’s mission.

Credit: Brock Scott

Credit: Brock Scott

“This model allows cities like Atlanta to harness and amplify the creativity unique to their own communities,” he says. “I have seen this model foster local pride over and over again.”

In a time of often fluctuating support for the arts, the challenge says Fredalyn M. Frasier, the project director for planning and urban design for Central Atlanta Progress and Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) is “how do you bring the private sector to the table?”

“I think this is a good example of that type of partnership, and has a bit more sustainability when you have more people at the table from different sectors, and all of them kind of working toward the same goals, culturally and artistically.”

And there’s more to come from Orange Barrel Media in 2022. In the new year, Orange Barrel Media will launch a public artwork on Marietta Street by Genevieve Gaignard as part of an exhibition of her work “This Is America: The Unsettling Contradictions in American Identity” opening in February at Atlanta Contemporary.

And for the second year, Arts & Entertainment Atlanta will fund 10 local artists and organizations creating projects in downtown Atlanta with revenue generated through its partnerships with Orange Barrel Media and media company BIG Outdoor.

A&E offered the AJC an exclusive preview of this year’s grantees, half of which are individual dancers and dance companies.

The 2021 grant winners include Full Radius Dance which will stage a trio of site-specific dance works illuminating pivotal moments in Atlanta’s civil rights history. Dance theater Bautanzt will also create site-specific dance theater performances activating various downtown locations. Atlanta-based dancer Onur Topal-Sumer will perform alongside a dancer in Istanbul in a collaborative remote performance, Lassana Kouyate will combine storytelling in the African griot tradition with dance and artist Shoccara Marcus will make a series of documentaries highlighting Atlanta’s dance community.

Managed by ADID, A&E Atlanta’s mission is to fund cultural and public space programming in the city’s core through revenue-sharing agreements with OBM and BIG Outdoor.

The 2021 grant winners receive from $5,000-$10,000 in awards. The $50,000 in grants awarded in the inaugural round has now doubled in 2021 to $100,000.

For Frasier, projects that featured live performance were especially notable this year.

“I think it’s a pent-up energy, right after COVID,” she says, “it’s is time to get out there and experience live performance once again.”

“I think we have all seen the constraints of indoor creative venues over the last two years with so many closures” echoes Scantland.

“Even before COVID, we constantly heard from artists that they wanted a broader, more open platform. Artists we work with have embraced being part of a larger cityscape and have even created work that reflects or engages the specific surroundings. These collaborations allow artists to reach broader and more diverse audiences through our platform,” says Scantland.

Credit: Vincent Beetles

Credit: Vincent Beetles

This year’s grants will also support programming at the independent downtown art gallery the Bakery and a mural addressing race and identity from Power Haus Creative. Additional grant winners for 2021 include Theatrical Outlet, Mass Collective and Cam Kirk Studios.