by SaportaReport Contributor Jamie Clements, a leader at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, recently shared his perspectives on the fascinating world of Broadway-bound productions and theatrical investing. Jamie, the Alliance’s director of development, brings both professional and personal passion and knowledge to theatre, and has watched numerous shows originally produced at the Alliance Theatre continue on to successful Broadway or off-Broadway runs. He generously fielded our questions to help others better understand this intriguing world. 1. Jamie, would you explain the Alliance’s history of sending productions to Broadway? a. Since its founding in 1968, the Alliance has premiered more than 100 original productions, launching important American musicals to Broadway, including the Tony Award winners The Color Purple; Aida by Elton John and Tim Rice; and Alfred Uhry’s The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Because Atlanta has helped us create such a remarkable venue, and helped support us attracting and hiring incredibly talented designers, costume artisans, set builders and theater run-crews (the people who actually make the shows work each night behind the scenes), the Alliance is in an elite group of less than a dozen theaters nation-wide who specialize in large-scale, pre-Broadway, world premiere partnerships. We have sent nine shows to Broadway and have quite a few in the line-up for future projects, including two hopefuls (Becoming Nancy and Maybe Happy Ending) in our current season. 2. How does the Alliance Theatre partner with investors and producers? a. It is not common knowledge that every show on Broadway is actually a for-profit company, and like most successful companies, the producers who originate these shows like to have a “beta test” or trial run to test their product before scaling it up to Broadway. Your favorites – Wicked, Hamilton, The Color Purple, The Lion King, etc. – all had one of these “out of town try-outs,” as they are called in the theater business, in big regional, non-profit theaters like the Alliance. During these trial runs, the shows change dramatically in rehearsals, and as the producers and directors hear and see the reactions from the audiences during what are called “preview performances.” A pre-Broadway show will often have 10-12 previews before Opening Night at the Alliance, with the show changing every single night until it “locks in” on Opening and remains the same for the remainder of the run. Because of this iterative process in previews, the producers are every bit as interested in our audiences as they are in our staff. The Alliance is a standout in the competitive world of pre-Broadway partnerships because of our diverse, engaged and invested patrons. 3. Does the Alliance Theatre profit when shows they produce go big? a. A wise Broadway investor once said “investing in a Broadway show is the most fun money you will ever lose!” When we enter into an agreement with Broadway-bound shows, the Alliance becomes an investor in that show, but we are most interested in sharing a great new story with Atlanta before the rest of the world sees it. Because we go to great expense to help build, costume and run a show, we do share in a small percentage of the profits after the show hopefully goes on to Broadway, national tours, and sometimes even when it is licensed to grace the stages of high schools, colleges, or community theaters around the country. Any money we receive in royalties is invested directly back into the work we do on our Atlanta stages and in hundreds of classrooms around the state of Georgia. We are always looking to be partners on high-potential shows, not only because they are great fun while they are in Atlanta, but also because we get to help export a great cultural product from Georgia that will then pay dividends we are able to reinvest in our city and community. 4. How have shows performed on Broadway? Any Tony Awards or other accolades? a. The Alliance has been incredibly fortunate with all of our Broadway-bound partnerships, but we are of course very proud of our three Tony Award winning shows (The Color Purple, Aida, and The Last Night of Ballyhoo). These shows were some of the reasons why The American Theatre Wing chose to award the Alliance Theatre itself with a Tony Award for artistic excellence in 2007. The Prom, which premiered at the Alliance in 2017, recently concluded 300+ performances on Broadway and received seven Tony nominations during this past awards season. In total, world premieres from the Alliance have garnered 30 Tony nominations and six Tony Awards. More than anything, the remarkable people attached to these shows – designers, actors, musicians, artists – all form incredible bonds with our patrons, staff and our city, so we see that as one of the best rewards each time we host a pre-Broadway partnership. 5. Have you seen any on Broadway? a. I was fortunate to see The Prom in the final week of previews on Broadway, just days before it had a fabulous Opening Night. It was the first show I’ve been able to see from “beta test” version here at the Alliance, all the way to scaled-up nationwide attention and fame. Selections from The Prom also kicked off 2018’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was a proud moment to watch. 6. What’s your favorite thing about Becoming Nancy? a. One reviewer noted that this is a “life-positive” show, and I couldn’t agree more. It is alive and energetic and exhilarating and funny and heartwarming. Exactly what I want from a great night at the theater. Becoming Nancy is currently running on the brand new Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre until Sunday, October 6. For more information, visit alliancetheatre.org. Featured photo: Jasmine Rogers, Nicole Medoro, Sally Ann Triplett, Zachary Sayle, Jessica Vosk, Lizzie Bea, and Matt Hetherington in the Alliance Theatre’s 2019/20 world premiere production BECOMING NANCY. Photo by Greg Mooney.
Additions to System Will Boost Performance and Customer Service By MARTA The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) board of directors has approved a $646 million agreement with Stadler Rail for the purchase of 254 new rail cars. The agreement also contains options for MARTA to order up to 100 additional rail cars. The procurement, which is the single largest for either organization, is a milestone in MARTA’s capital improvement program aimed at more efficient performance and enhanced customer experience. “We have consistently exceeded our on-time performance target goal of 95 percent, but we know that the age of our current fleet contributes heavily to the delays we experience,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “About 65 percent of our delays are due to rail car reliability, and with rail transit being the cornerstone of our business, we aim to change that. The new fleet will reduce the number of unscheduled repairs associated with MARTA’s aging rail fleet, which ranges between 30 and 40 years old. A better customer experience in turn will increase ridership.” As the MARTA system grew between 1979 and 2000, MARTA had procured rail cars three times previously – in 1979, 1985 and 2003. The Stadler procurement, however, will mark the first time that previously purchased cars will be retired. Stadler has manufactured trains since 1942. A Switzerland-based manufacturer with U.S. operations in Salt Lake City, Utah, the organization is committed to meeting the specific needs of their clients and employing innovative technologies to customize features that improve performance and passenger comfort. “It is great to see MARTA putting their trust in our trains. This contract makes it clear that large U.S. railway operators are future-oriented and highly interested in efficient, comfortable and reliable vehicles for their riders. Stadler is here to provide exactly that,” said Martin Ritter, president and CEO of Stadler US. While it is confirmed that each new pair of cars will feature an open gangway design with modernized electronic signage and public address system, more comfortable seating plus handholds and stanchions with better functionality, two wheelchair positions, charging stations, luggage space and enhanced video surveillance, MARTA is also planning a robust customer engagement process to determine riders’ functionality needs and preferences. Customer input will support the customization of the rail car design. The new rail cars will also interface with other investments aimed at enhancing the customer experience such as MARTA’s new integrated operations center, new station audio-visual information upgrade, systemwide elevator and escalator upgrade, restroom modernization program and station rehabilitation program which will refresh MARTA stations. The rail cars are scheduled to be delivered between 2023 and 2028, with the delivery of a pilot car in 2022. New Rail Car Renderings via MARTA:
By John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Operation HOPE, Inc. Earlier this month, I visited the set of CNBC’s Squawk Box as a guest to talk about capitalism and free enterprise. We covered a lot of ground during our conversation, but I left thinking that it was a good day for everyone who aspires to go from the bottom to the top. The topic of capitalism is personal for me. I grew up in Compton, California. Without capitalism, and a banker coming to teach me financial literacy at nine years old, I wouldn’t be who I am today. This definitely wouldn’t have been the case had I grown up under communist systems, like China or Russia. It’s amazing that America, with all of her intense problems and challenges, is still remarkably different than most parts of the world — where you don’t succeed based on your aspirations and ability. Where you don’t speak your mind, and hear your own authentic voice. And we didn’t pull punches or take short cuts either. There are always ways for America to be better. The country could benefit if wealthier citizens’ tax dollars were allocated toward massive internship and apprenticeship programs. This would effectively create a gateway towards upward mobility for other Americans. Operation HOPE strives to close that gap and bring financial dignity to everyone. Click HERE to read the piece about my recent Squawk Box appearance. Share, comment, and engage. Also, contact my team at Operation HOPE to learn more about our mission and how we’re empowering others with financial dignity.
By Diana Robelotto Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been present in all major humanitarian emergencies over the last few decades responding to a growing gap in health needs across the globe. Their work proved essential, for instance, during the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa where MSF was at the forefront of treating patients as well as providing training and education to local health staff. MSF is an amazing humanitarian organization with an incredibly dedicated team. Today I have the honor of attending the annual Fries Prize for Improving Health award ceremony at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) meeting in Philadelphia, where MSF will be awarded this year’s prize. The CDC Foundation partners with the James F. and Sarah T. Fries Foundation to present the Fries Prize for Improving Health each year. MSF is receiving the Fries prize for its lifesaving impact on the health of people across the world. The Fries Prize for Improving Health is presented to an individual or organization doing the most to improve health for the greatest number of people, and MSF certainly embodies this principle. As part of its varied response work, MSF delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries. Founded in France in 1971 by a small group of physicians and journalists, MSF is a global movement with the purpose of saving lives and alleviating the suffering of people in danger by delivering medical care where it is most needed. In emergencies and their aftermath, MSF provides health care, rehabilitates and runs hospitals and clinics, performs surgery, battles epidemics, carries out vaccination campaigns, operates feeding centers for malnourished children and offers mental health care. In addition to the Fries Prize for Improving Health, the CDC Foundation also manages and administers the annual Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award. At this year’s Fries Prize for Improving Health ceremony, Dr. Judy Monroe, CDC Foundation president and CEO, and Greg Fries, representing the Fries Family who created and supports the award, will present the prize to MSF. Congratulations to MSF for this well-deserved recognition!
Introduction by John Ahmann, President & CEO, Westside Future Fund Our guest columnist this week is Tracy Techau, Scout Executive/CEO of the Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. Last month, we were fortunate to host Tracy along with a panel of Scout leaders and community partners as the featured presenters for the September 6th Transform Westside Summit. In case you missed it, you can read a recap and catch a replay of the Boy Scouts’ presentation on our Facebook livestream I am grateful to Tracy because he leads by showing up! Although he has metro-wide responsibilities, Tracy and senior members of his team have been regular attendees of the Transform Westside Summit. Thanks to Tracy’s leadership, they have made special efforts to stand up Scout Troops on the Westside. Read more about it below. I am also appreciative of David Moody’s leadership, last year’s Council Board President. A graduate of Morehouse College, David is the founder/CEO of C.D. Moody Construction Company, Inc. David is also the author of “Fighting Through the Fear: My Journey of Healing Through Childhood Sex Abuse”, and through his powerful testimonial seeks to help other victims of childhood sexual abuse recover. Thank you Tracy and David for modeling the Scout Oath in word and deed! Be sure to register and join me at the next Transform Westside Summit on Friday, October 18. What do Hank Aaron, Ivan Allen and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., share with the Westside? Scouting. Contributed by Tracy Techau, Scout Executive/CEO, Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America “Outdoor leadership” is a phrase rarely used to describe Atlanta’s Westside. But the Boy Scouts of America, which started programs in Metro-Atlanta in 1916, is playing a pivotal role in Westside revitalization efforts, and in building leadership skills among Westside youth. Over 15 Scouting programs serve the Westside community. Through our Scoutreach initiative, staff members called Program Specialists serve as the leaders for some Packs and Troops implementing the weekly leadership program. Scouts are provided with handbooks, supplies, and funding for activities and camp, at no charge to the family. Scouting has touched the lives of many of our city’s great business and political leaders, civic activists, educators, and even Hall of Famers, and many of them have served Scouting. Ivan Allen, Sr. was a founding member. Ivan Allen, Jr. served as a Council President, as did Ivan Allen, III. Maynard Jackson grew up as a Scout at Friendship Baptist Church. Hank Aaron was a Scout in Mobile, Alabama and says Scouting taught him skills through the Scout Oath and Law. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Scout at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The Boy Scouts of America will continue to thrive and provide character building and training to our children through Atlanta’s great leadership. Our mission is critical. Children today are faced with obstacles that were not a challenge before – they want and need loyalty, trust, and kindness in their lives. They need a village to teach them to always strive to do their best and to serve their community. They need access to learning outside of school – training that sparks interests in future careers. Scouting allows children to try different things in a safe and controlled environment, a place where they can fail and learn. Failure in Scouting may have consequences, they might be a little wet and cold on a campout, or be a little uncomfortable in a leadership role, but they learn how to overcome challenges and lead confidently. Our mission may be lofty, but with the help of volunteers and community partners, we create leaders out of young people – and I think we would all agree that we need more leaders in our world. Our goal is to give every child the opportunity to be a Scout, no matter their background. Mike Dubose, President of Thermo Fisher Scientific, and VP of Scoutreach on the Council’s Board of Directors, leads the Scoutreach team that works to remove barriers that might prevent a child from participating. “In some neighborhoods, it is tough to find volunteers, especially among families who are struggling to make ends meet,” says Eagle Scout Dubose. “All children should have access to Scouting, especially those who have challenges at home.” “Scoutreach support is available to any Scout in need, but we have found that if we can go deep into certain neighborhoods like South Cobb, Marietta City School District, and the Westside, then our resources go further, and our impact is greater,” Dubose says. Dave Moody, President and CEO of C.D. Moody Construction, and past Council Board President, helped to launch the Westside Scouting Expansion in 2017. “Scouting has been in the Westside for decades. Through the generosity of our donors and the vision of our Scoutreach leadership we now provide over 15 programs at many of the churches, at Bellwood Boys & Girls Club, City of Refuge, KIPP, Community Concerns, Ashview Heights, the At Promise Center, and M. Agnes Jones,” says Moody. “Scoutreach is impactful, but it is also more costly than the traditional volunteer led model. Our paid Program Specialists bring consistency and hope to these young people. They show them how to do their best, serve their community and be leaders. To me, that sounds like one of the best investments someone can make,” Moody states. The Scouting ideals are found in two precepts that every Scout recites and lives, the Scout Oath and Law. Individually, the words are simple, but collectively they become words to live by. These principles make Scouting more than what people do, but rather who they are—and what they will be. The Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America is grateful for the 9,200 volunteers that serve our 32,000 youth, and the many donors who invest in Scouting to help build our children into future leaders. For more information on the Westside Scouting Expansion, visit www.atlantabsa.org/westside or call 770-956-3178 for information on how to support a Scout in need.
By Sharon A. Gay, Office Managing Partner, Dentons This fall I want to highlight something outside the usual legal realm: How the NFL—and the Pittsburgh Steelers no less—have played a key role in making Dentons a nationally recognized leader in diversity. You may have heard of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which was created by the late Dan Rooney and is now supported by his son, Art Rooney II, president of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Rooney Rule requires every NFL team to interview at least one minority candidate for head coach vacancies. In the years following its implementation, the number of minorities hired to fill head-coach roles doubled. The Rooney Rule inspired Diversity Lab, an incubator for innovative ways to boost diversity and inclusion in law, to adopt a similar Mansfield Rule for the legal field, named after Arabella Mansfield, the first woman admitted to the practice of law in the US. Dentons piloted the inaugural version of the Mansfield Rule in the summer of 2017. This fall, we achieved Mansfield Certified Plus status for 2019 after completing the Mansfield Rule 2.0 12-month certification program. The new certification measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30 percent women, lawyers of color and LGBTQ+ lawyers for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities and senior lateral positions. The goal of the Mansfield Rule is to increase the representation of diverse lawyers in law firm leadership by broadening the pool of candidates considered for these opportunities. The “plus” part of the certification indicates that, beyond meeting or exceeding the pipeline consideration requirements for certification, Dentons successfully reached at least 30 percent diverse lawyer representation in a notable number of its current leadership roles and committees. Ensuring that lawyers from under-represented groups have opportunities for career growth and advancement—and the support to seize those opportunities—is a priority for me personally. This latest certification is another sign of the value we, as a firm, put on creating and sustaining a rich and vibrant workplace that reflects our clients and communities.
The Atlanta Sports Council launches Atlanta Esports Alliance™ to further position metro Atlanta as the capital of esports By Metro Atlanta Chamber Last week, the Atlanta Sports Council (ASC) announced the launch of the Atlanta Esports Alliance, its new division committed to bringing major esports and gaming events to metro Atlanta. The announcement was made just ahead of DreamHack Atlanta, a three-day gaming experience featuring esports competitions, live music, exhibitions and more. Because Atlanta is the No. 1 city for gaming environment and No. 5 city for gamers, the Atlanta Esports Alliance is being launched to drive new opportunities for teams, tournaments, venues and esports service providers and partners in Atlanta. Atlanta is home to three franchised city-based esports teams: the Atlanta Reign (Overwatch), Hawks Talon (NBA 2K) and the Atlanta FaZe (Call of Duty). With 150 gaming studios throughout the state of Georgia, the region is also the headquarters of esports game developers Hi-Rez Studios and Blue Mammoth, global leader in customized gaming controllers Scuf Gaming and professional esports league ELEAGUE. “Our goal is to continue being forward thinking,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council. “As we look ahead to the next decade, esports is going to continue to dominate the sports industry, and it was important for us as an organization to cement Atlanta as the capital of esports and use this platform as yet another economic driver.” A division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC), ASC facilitates the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major regional, national and international sports events. In 2017, the ASC launched its Championship Hosting Division, which focuses on streamlining efficiencies for planning and producing major sporting events locally. The Atlanta Esports Alliance will join ASC’s umbrella of brands and collaborate with the Championship Hosting Division as needed. “Atlanta is a top esports city because we have the venues and infrastructure required to host major events plus all the elements unique to the esports ecosystem: local game publishers, tournament organizers, over a dozen salaried professional esports teams and, most importantly, a community that games,” said Todd Harris, founder and CEO of Skillshot Media, who will serve as chair of the Atlanta Esports Alliance. “Additionally, our K-12 and higher education systems have recognized and sanctioned esports as a varsity activity, and the Atlanta business community also understands the value of esports and its audience.” The Atlanta Esports Alliance is a collaborative effort of ASC, MAC, Georgia Game Developers Association, Skillshot Media, and state and local economic development officials. Along with representatives from ASC and MAC, industry leaders across metro Atlanta representing professional team ownership, hardware manufacturers, game developers, media partners, high education and consultants will round out the Alliance’s board. Grant Wainscott, senior director of ecosystem expansion with the Metro Atlanta Chamber, will serve as vice chair of the Atlanta Esports Alliance. Wainscott noted, “With hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment into our esports ecosystem by industry leaders like Cox Enterprises, the Atlanta Hawks, Hi-Rez Studios and many others, we felt the time had come to elevate our globally recognized sports platform to include esports as a major driver.” “It is truly remarkable to see how far the esports and video game industry has come since the beginning of DreamHack 25 years ago,” said Bas Bruinekool, DreamHack’s director of global festivals, vice president of DreamHack Inc. and an honorary Atlanta Esports Alliance board member. “We first brought this festival to Atlanta because of how quickly this industry was growing here — three years later, we are proud to say it is still one of only three U.S. markets we are currently visiting. I am proud to represent DreamHack as an honorary board member of the Atlanta Esports Alliance, and look forward to working together to grow the esports ecosystem not just in Georgia, but all over the world.” For more information on the Atlanta Esports Alliance, please visit www.AtlantaEsportsAlliance.com. ### ABOUT ATLANTA ESPORTS ALLIANCE The Atlanta Esports Alliance™ is a private 501(c) 6 division of the Atlanta Sports Council (ASC), comprised of business and community leaders in the esports ecosystem working to further metro Atlanta’s position as a global leader in the space. Its unique structure allows the Alliance to leverage the championship pedigree of the ASC as it bids on, wins, and then manages major esport events and investment. The Alliance board includes team owners and investors, major venues and events, education systems, game publishers, hardware manufacturers, service providers and others. For more information visit www.AtlantaEsportsAlliance.com ABOUT THE ATLANTA SPORTS COUNCIL The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC), a division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, facilitates the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major regional, national and international sports events. The organization plays an important role in improving the quality of life for residents in the region through sports, working to drive economic growth and visibility and acting as an advocate for the area teams and annual sports events. For more information, visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/councils/atlanta-sports-council. ABOUT DREAMHACK DreamHack is all about entertainment for the digital generation. Founded in 1994 as a BYOC LAN party, DreamHack grew over 20 years to a global phenomenon as the digital festival for today’s youth, hosted throughout Europe and North America. DreamHack festivals feature multiple esports competitions, live music, exhibitions, creative competitions, LAN party, cosplay and much more. DreamHack helped pioneer esports and continues to be one of the largest global producers of esports content. Millions of viewers tune in from all over the world to watch DreamHack broadcasts every year. DreamHack events welcomed more than 310,000 visitors in 2018. More information is available at dreamhack.com. DreamHack is part of leading international digital entertainment group MTG. More information at mtg.com.
By S. Kelley Henderson, Chief Executive Officer, Action Ministries From and early age, we were taught to “show your work.” Although the answer may have been correct, demonstrating how you arrived at the answer demonstrated competency and hopefully your ability to repeat the same results. The same holds true for using statistics when tracking trends in poverty. Each year, dozens of reports hit the wires about homelessness, food insecurity, school performance, population trends, etc. Well intended policy wonks then geek out on this data, offering a perspective on the issue of the month. These reports are needed, and they help guide those of us in the space who are trying to create impactful programs to address equity shortcomings facing our community. Over the next few weeks, I will be going “beyond the numbers” on a few challenges facing our region, and perhaps convince you to take action! This week, we will unpack homelessness. Homelessness is not a new topic on this forum, yet it is one that has a multi-faceted view into our community. The annual Point-In-Time Count is conducted across the nation by agencies and municipalities who receive funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD then uses this data to allocate tax funding to address the homelessness issued facing each jurisdiction. According to an archival study by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (2019), homeless counts in Georgia were 19,836 in 2010 compared to 9,499 in 2018…a decline of 52% (NAEH, State of Homelessness 2019). Using a different source, the Georgia Department of Education, we learn that 38,474 students experienced homelessness in 2018 (McKinney Vento Report, Ed Data Express 2019). From the same report and using the same period as above, 2010 included 38,336 students. We have witnessed no improvement over the same period of time using a different benchmark for data. Going beyond these numbers, it is important to understand that each group has a different definition of homeless. For HUD, the person or family must be literally homeless (i.e. on the street, in a shelter, etc.) while the school system expands that to include persons “doubled up” with friends or families and those living in hotels/motels. Why is this important? If we are going to create adequate solutions that are sufficiently resourced, we need to truly understand the scope of the problem. We should not become so focused on moving a single data point, that we lose sight of a larger problem waiting silently for a tipping point. Families who are at risk of being on the street, including those living in motels or on a friend’s sofa, are that silent group. They need our help, before they slip into the “system,” and Action Ministries is ready to help you help these neighbors on the edge of crisis. Over the past year Action Ministries, ended homelessness for 1,706 people (946 were children). We are expanding our efforts to help families living in motels and without a place of their own by partnering with dozens of schools in the Greater Atlanta area to identify and connect these families to us. To learn how you can help, go to www.actionministries.net/housing/
By Katrina DeBerry, program officer, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta The arts are a physical manifestation of the heart and soul of community. Not just what feels good, but all the things that make us human can be expressed and understood through artistic representation. The arts give voice to issues that give us joy and break our hearts. Of course it makes sense as an integral part of civic and community engagement. This year, the Community Foundation awarded General Operating Support grants to two arts organizations at the intersection of arts and community engagement. C4 Atlanta and Out of Hand Theater are doing more than creating and supporting artists. They are utilizing the arts as a tool to amplify community voice, drive important conversations and create wealth-building and entrepreneurial opportunities for artists. Created in 2001, Out of Hand Theater (OHT) uses the arts as a conduit for substantive community conversations. OHT partners with civic organizations to address regional issues through arts-driven programming and intentional community engagement. Each year, OHT performs over 30 shows in the homes of community members and offers facilitated conversations around issues like poverty, addiction and gun violence. This work places the organization in communities that experience these challenges, but also exposes these issues to members of the community who may not be directly impacted but are willing to learn more. This summer, OHT, in partnership with City of Decatur, One Small Change and Decatur City Schools, hosted 100 Decatur Dinners: Conversations on Race and Equity. OHT used creative performances by local artists to begin each of the conversations around race and equity. C4 is an organization focused on the business side of the arts, providing tools and support to artists as entrepreneurs. Created in 2010, C4 plays an important role in the artistic entrepreneurial space. It sees the arts as a key economic development driver for the Atlanta region and serves to ensure that artists are taking full advantage of their art from a business perspective. C4 also provides training for artists who seek to work in the community and helps to define what community-driven/community-led work looks like. C4 does this by bringing awareness to policies that affect artists, like healthcare, workforce development, voting rights and tax policy, and creating opportunities for artists to advocate for those issues. C4 hosted a two-day civic education workshop in partnership with the YMCA and the New Georgia Project to present information to young voters during a free concert in 2018. That project evolved into an advocacy workshop for arts workers and created space for artists to actively engage in civic issues and connect to their local representatives. Both organizations are working to support the arts community and our collective community. And we are a better regional community because of it.
By: The Wilbert Group Urban Land Institute named “hipsturbia” one of the top emerging trends for 2020 after ULI member and North American Properties’ Adam Schwegman introduced the buzzy phenomenon in a ULI Atlanta focus group. Here’s why. Each year, Urban Land Institute publishes its “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” a joint-publication with PwC — a compendium of the latest and greatest research and insight from the industry’s luminaries across the country and Canada. While this year’s 100-page report is chock-full with data and outlines 10 key trends to watch, there is one topic in particular garnering attention and making national headlines in outlets like Forbes and Axios. Welcome to “hipsturbia.” According to the 2020 report, a focus group with participants from ULI Atlanta can be credited for introducing the phrase describing the phenomenon that “suburbs are taking a chance on mixed-use, walkable, millennials-attracting development.” In fact, it was Adam Schwegman, partner and senior vice president of leasing for North American Properties (NAP), who first alerted ULI Atlanta to the term — although he doesn’t claim coining it. The History of Hipsturbia “I think I first heard about ‘hipsturbia’ in an article about demographic trends related to millennials moving to the suburbs,” said Schwegman. “The article talked about how millennials are beginning to start families and move away from urban cores because the perceived safety, better schools and lower cost of living are all attractive and more prevalent in the suburbs. Overall, the message distilled down to people choosing a better quality of life.” It’s true that “hipsturbia” isn’t a brand-new concept. The term can be traced back to a 2013 New York Times article, and ULI’s 2020 report also notes that it has been 25 years since its Emerging Trend report began discussing live/work/play environments. So, why is this trend taking the spotlight now? “The trend is nearly reaching a tipping point. There are enough of these environments now and their success has been proven enough times, so people are really starting to take notice,” said Schwegman. “We can point to a lot of places where this trend is occurring. From college campuses to office buildings, there’s been an amenity arms race and now it has moved to the suburbs. Whether it’s restaurants, walkable mixed-use, growing the park system or connecting places with trails, these hip places have been working to improve their environments, and now we are starting to see the results.” Schwegman notes places like Decatur and Alpharetta were among the first suburban Atlanta communities to tout “cool” status. During the now-famed focus group, Schwegman discussed the concept of “hipsturbia” in relation to the latter, where NAP has developed Avalon — the $1 billion, award-winning mixed-use community that opened five years ago and has become a household name among locals and real estate leaders alike. Suburbanites Unite Since joining NAP in 2019, Schwegman has led a team focused on an experiential merchandise mix at each of NAP’s Metro Atlanta’s projects, including Colony Square in Midtown Atlanta, Ga.; High Street in Dunwoody, Ga.; Revel in Gwinnett County, Ga. in addition to Avalon. A seasoned leasing strategist, Atlanta resident for nearly two decades and a graduate of ULI Atlanta’s inaugural Center for Leadership class, Schwegman has significant experience in the city’s culinary, entertainment and hospitality industries. “I live in Milton now, so I can speak pretty in-depth about the transformation of North Fulton,” he said. “Now I’m a proud suburbanite, but I don’t think I would have been happy in the suburbs 10 years ago. There has been enough additions to the amenities of retail, restaurants, trail systems and cool mixed-use where we’ve reached an inflection point. People like me who once lived intown now feel like there’s enough amenity base where we don’t miss in-town living.” For example, nearly of half of Avalon’s 26 restaurants are local concepts, which Schwegman says really adds character to the place. “Then a really great lineup of restaurants opened recently at Alpharetta City Center about a mile away, and Avalon’s sales went up,” he said. “In my eyes, the combination creates an almost unparalleled critical mass of restaurants, even compared to in-town communities.” Soon, the two projects will soon be connected by The Alpha Loop, multi-use paths that will link locations like Downtown Alpharetta, Avalon and the Northwinds area and is designed to improve mobility while further spurring economic development. While highly amenitized communities like Alpharetta may be leading the charge, hipsturbia is happening on both small and large scales across metro Atlanta. In particular, Schwegman points out Marietta, Roswell, Duluth and Serenbe as key examples. “Some of these areas are historical downtowns like Marietta or Decatur, while others have taken 20-plus years and a forward-thinking vision to create — which is where Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) has been so crucial,” he said. For more context, LCI is a grant program that incentivizes local jurisdictions to re-envision their communities as vibrant, walkable places that offer increased mobility options, encourage healthy lifestyles and provide improved access to jobs and services. Since 2000, the LCI program has invested $231 million in 120 communities throughout the Atlanta region, helping pay for planning studies and the construction of transportation projects, such as sidewalks and intersection improvements, to bring those visions to life. “When thinking about hipsturbia in Atlanta, it begs to point out the ARC’s work and ULI Atlanta has been with them every step of the way,” Schwegman said. “The LCI has been a thought-leader in advancing conversations around TOD, walkability, and affordable housing – many of the attributes that make up a ‘hipsturbia.’” The different landscapes across metro Atlanta present new opportunities for growth as well as unique challenges. “Greenfield is probably the hardest, because you have to build such a critical mass pretty much all at the same time,” he said. “Meanwhile, historical downtowns have great bones, but they might have smaller parcels or a harder path to development or redevelopment. Alpharetta took a long time to get to where …
By Kate Sweeney How did it come to be that a small city a full 30 miles north of the city of Atlanta set the precedent for so-called “urban” design — the sort of pedestrian-friendly planning that’s taking suburban and in-town neighborhoods alike by storm? In this week’s episode of What’s Next ATL, the podcast from the Atlanta Regional Commission, we hear the story of Woodstock, Georgia. It was long a fairly-typical suburb, characterized by fairly-typical suburban development. Today, its downtown is a regional destination and a model for new urbanism. How did that happen, and what can the rest of us learn from it? Learn more and check out the podcast.
by Georgia Conservancy Communications Director Brian Foster “My thoughts on conservation are grounded in a lifelong love of the natural wonders of Georgia and our responsibility to pass on the land, water, and forests in a better condition than we inherited them,” wrote President Jimmy Carter in his acceptance of the Georgia Conservancy’s Distinguished Conservationist Award on November 7th. From his earliest encounters with the natural world – on his family’s farm just west of Plains, Georgia and in the waters of nearby Choctahatchee and Kinchafoonee creeks – a young Jimmy Carter was slowly building the foundation for that lifelong love, as well as forming an environmental ethic that would one day have a lasting influence on the nation. Before reaching the Oval Office and establishing himself alongside Theodore Roosevelt as one of the United States’ most conservation-minded Presidents, Jimmy Carter had proven himself to Georgians to be a strong champion of our state’s natural resources. In 1967, alongside leaders in business, government and academia, Carter, who had recently served in the Georgia State Senate, lent his guidance and support to the creation of The Georgia Conservancy. “I honestly believe that our greatest potential force for meeting challenges to our environment is in the several thousand highly-motivated and well-educated Georgians who are members of the Georgia Conservancy,” said Carter in his remarks at the 1968 Georgia Conservancy Conference. “As one of the few Charter members, I know that we must speak with a strong, continuing, well-informed and courageous voice, which can be heard clearly by the public official, business man, and average citizen.” Words to live by. His role as a Charter member of The Georgia Conservancy helped to build within the young organization and its membership the necessary tools to soon advocate successfully for the establishment of Cumberland Island National Seashore, wilderness designation for the Okefenokee, and the creation of Sweetwater Creek State Park. As Governor, with the strong support of the Georgia Conservancy, Carter established the Georgia Heritage Trust, which identified key areas in Georgia for conservation and protection by the State. The program was successful in protecting Ossabaw Island as a State Heritage Preserve, adding critical acreage to the recently-dedicated Panola Mountain State Conservation Park, and setting aside more than 300 acres along the Chattahoochee River in Metro Atlanta for preservation. Guided by his environmental ethic to influence policy, then-Governor Carter vetoed a Georgia General Assembly-supported U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project water reclamation project along the Flint River between Upson and Talbot counties. The proposed dam at Sprewell Bluff would have flooded one of the most scenic river valleys in the state and would have posed significant threat to native species such as the shoals spider-lily and shoal bass. Carter knew those waters, as he had spent time canoeing the river before making this bold decision. His hands-on experience in nature and his pragmatic approach to conservation continued when he moved to Washington, D.C. Many of us know the story of President Carter’s installation of solar panels on the White House, but fewer remember him for his role in establishing the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in 1978 (a treasure for metro Atlanta) and for his ambitious expansion of conserved Federal lands in Alaska. At more 157 million acres, it remains the largest singular expansion of protected lands in our nation’s history. His love of wild, flowing rivers also endured. With lessons learned at Sprewell Bluff, President Carter used his Presidential powers to de-authorize sixteen national water reclamation projects. Long out of elected office at 95, he continues to lead by example. Carter family land in the heart of Plains recently became home to more than 3800 solar panels, which produce enough electricity to power half the town. It’s a legacy worth celebrating! In honoring President Jimmy Carter as the 2019 Distinguished Conservationist at our November 7th ecoBenefête gala, the Georgia Conservancy recognized his profound and lasting impact on the conservation and protection of Georgia’s natural resources and beyond. And in his written message to the audience at ecoBenefête, President Carter reminded us all of our ever-important role as conservationists. “Future generations of conservation leaders must remember that we are stewards of a precious gift, which is not an unpleasant duty but rather an exciting challenge,” said President Carter. “We must safeguard our land so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy freshwater, clean air, scenic mountains and coasts, fertile agricultural lands, and healthy, safe places to live and thrive.” Learn more ecoBenefete and our 2019 Distinguished Conservationist, President Jimmy Carter: www.georgiaconservancy.org/ecobenefete Learn more about President Carter’s environmental legacy in this short film produced by the Georgia Conservancy and WSB-TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isSW2pZirNM Learn more about the Georgia Conservancy: www.georgiaconservancy.org
By Jim Durrett, Executive Director, Buckhead CID Last week I attended the launch party for HUB404, which will be the nation’s first Transit-Oriented Park with nine acres of elevated green space that connects to MARTA’s Buckhead station. As I looked out from the 11th floor of the Atlanta Financial Center at the space that will transform our community into a more walkable urban center, it was a reminder to me of the exciting years ahead for Buckhead. More than 15 years ago, the Buckhead Action Plan helped forge the development of our community into what it is today – one of the epicenters of commerce in Atlanta – with a daytime population of more than 140,000 people, new neighborhood parks and numerous multi-modal transportation corridors, including PATH400, which will connect to the BeltLine. Yet it is evident by just one glance at our booming Tech Corridor that Buckhead’s growth is far from over. Atlanta, a “brain gain” city, is the country’s fourth fastest-growing market for tech jobs, a recent expert from CBRE has found. This is evident in Buckhead, which has become a tech hub for established technology firms like Salesforce, Amazon and Fleetcor Technologies to start-ups like QGenda, Peloton and Workday. The Atlanta Tech Village, the fourth largest tech space in the U.S., is home to numerous start-ups as well and has created more than 6,500 jobs since its inception just a few years ago. The housing needs of this influx of tech talent has resulted in a housing boom. Across Atlanta, approximately 10,380 new apartments are anticipated by the end of 2019, according to a RENTCAFE study. In Buckhead, approximately 5,000 multifamily units are in the pipeline. Boutique hotels are also sprouting up, including Dream Atlanta Buckhead and the Thompson Hotel Buckhead. The dynamic changes we have seen across Atlanta – the entrance of new industries, the push for mobility and employment opportunities – are unlikely to abate any time soon, thankfully. It’s no surprise to those of us who live and work here that metro Atlanta was named the fourth fastest-growing metro area in the nation last year. So, what does this mean for the future of Buckhead? This is an exciting time for our community, which is already thriving, but has great plans to sustain that growth ahead. Yet, as Kevin Green rightly pointed out in his column earlier this month, there are many “elements to creating a place that gets even better as it grows.” For me and the Buckhead Community Improvement District, it’s essential that our growth continues to facilitate a more walkable, livable urban environment that is safe and accessible. Let’s continue the discussion about how we get that formula right.