By Hannah E. Jones
It looks like ownership of the West End Performing Arts Center is changing hands. Last week, the City of Atlanta announced its intent to acquire the performing arts center from Fulton County.
With a price tag of $100, the space will be managed by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Through this purchase, the department aims to manage and provide more cultural services within the city. Once ownership is official, the city plans to give the space a “refresh,” but exact plans and price points have yet to be disclosed.
The Center sits at 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Camille Love, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, describes the area as a “naturally occurring cultural district” with its proximity to the Hammonds House Museum, The Wren’s Nest and Gallery 992.
“The West End community is steeped in culture,” Love said. “Especially because the West End is in a period of rebirth — because it’s close to the Atlanta University Center — we think that it’s important for us to stake a claim in that area and provide cultural services and a place where the community can meet.”
The sale is expected to go through very soon. According to Love, the team is looking to implement programming by mid-June.
One of these initiatives is Art School, a youth employment program. Through this program, Atlanta youth who are interested in pursuing a career in the arts have the opportunity to learn from local professional artists this summer. The West End Center will be one of the sites for this program.
The Mayor’s Arts Advisory Committee — Atlantans with backgrounds and expertise in the arts — will help the team develop a long-term plan for the Center. This process is still in the beginning stages, with the department primarily focused on the Art School program.
“Right now, we’re trying to provide a space for kids to learn how to be artists over the summer,” Love said. “Once we’ve gotten through that, we’ll be able to catch our breath and determine how we move forward from there.”
While the plans are still in the beginning stages, the team pictures the Center serving as a pillar within the cultural corridor on Ralph David Abernathy Blvd — providing a space for residents to engage with each other and creative community initiatives.
“We anticipate it being a gathering space and an asset to the cultural life of the community, like the [other nearby cultural institutions] are now,” Love said. “We don’t want it to be dormant.”
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