Atlanta voters to weigh in on spending plan that includes $15 million for the arts

Andre Dickens
Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens visited the ZuCot Gallery Wednesday to tout an infrastructure spending plan that includes $15 million in arts funding. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Voters in the city of Atlanta will be asked to approve a $750 million infrastructure spending package next Tuesday that includes $15 million for the arts.

Walking through the ZuCot Gallery in the Castleberry Hill district Wednesday, Mayor Andre Dickens says a vibrant arts scene has the power to transform communities.

“Fifteen million dollars programmed correctly and leveraged correctly with philanthropic infusions — we can really get a long way,” said Dickens.

While there are more specifics on how money from the infrastructure package would be spent on streets, sidewalks and parks — Dickens says how the $15 million for the arts would be allocated, is yet to be determined.

“I’d want to see some catalytic work that takes place,” said Dickens “Whether that’s an arts district, whether that’s something physical that we can all see as an installation that’s iconic — but also things that support local artists and local art organizations.”

He says he’ll rely on his office of cultural affairs — and local artists and organizations to determine how the money, if approved, would best serve the city.

Dickens also says the budget proposal he recently sent to city council features an added $500,000 in grants for the artistic community.

Camille Love, who leads the office of cultural affairs, says Atlanta has contributed millions of dollars to arts over the years through the Municipal Support for the Arts program.

She also says the Cultural Experience Project has given more than half a million Atlanta public school students a chance to take a field trip to a cultural arts location over the 15 years of its existence.

“The arts enrich the creative development of the city’s diverse populations, and contribute positively to the social and economic wellbeing of the region,” said Love.