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True Colors and Ballethnic receiving major grants as part of South Arts initiative

A performance at True Colors Theatre Co. (Photo by Greg Mooney for True Colors.)

By Maria Saporta

Two Atlanta arts organizations each will receive a $300,000 over three years through a partnership between the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and South Arts as well as other partners.

Atlanta-based Ballethnic and True Colors Theatre Co. will receive the funding as part of the initial Southern Cultural Treasures cohort, which is providing a total of $6 million over four years to 17 Black, Indigenous and People of Color arts and cultural organizations in the Southeast. The region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

A performance of Ballethnic. (Photo courtesy of Shocphoto.)

Two other Georgia organizations also will receive funding — Savannah-based Deep Center Inc. and the Macon-based Otis Redding Foundation — for general operating support over the next three years.

“South Arts is honored to recognize and support these 17 organizations as Southern Cultural Treasures,” said Susie Surkamer, South Arts’ president and CEO. “These groups push the boundaries of creative expression, anchor their local communities, and advance the arts in our nine-state region. Our hope is that this initiative, with the help of these organizations, will foster a more equitable art community throughout the Southeastern region.”

South Arts first announced the Southern Cultural Treasures program in the fall of 2021. It complements the Ford Foundation’s America’s Cultural Treasures initiative, which aims to support the diversity of artistic expression and excellence in America.

A performance at True Colors Theatre Co. (Photo by Greg Mooney for True Colors.)

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with these regional and national funders to shine a light on arts organizations that help our city and region thrive, and that bring greater accessibility to original forms of artistic excellence for broad audiences,” said Frank Fernandez, president and CEO of Atlanta’s Community Foundation.

The 17 nonprofits were chosen for having a vital impact on their communities and helping to both define and preserve the uniqueness of the arts ecosystem in the region.

“We are thrilled to partner with South Arts and honor these 17 cultural institutions and their contributions to the regional landscape,” said Lane Harwell, program officer for creativity and free expression at the Ford Foundation. “We hope this investment will inspire more funders and patrons to support the diversity of arts organizations and expressions in the American South.”

The 17 Southern Cultural Treasures are:

  •  Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Inc., Birmingham, Ala.
  •  Art2Action Inc, Tampa, Fla.
  •  Asia Institute, Inc., Louisville, Ky.
  •  Ballethnic Dance Company, Inc., East Point, Ga.
  •  Catawba Indian Nation, Rock Hill, S.C.
  •  Collage Dance Collective, Memphis, Tenn.
  •  Colour of Music, Inc., Mount Pleasant, S.C.
  •  Deep Center, Inc., Savannah, Ga.
  •  Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator, Miami, Fla.
  •  Efforts of Grace, Inc., New Orleans, La.
  •  JazzArts Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C.
  •  Junebug Productions, Inc., New Orleans, La.
  •  BB King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, Indianola, Miss.
  •  Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, Utica, Miss.
  •  Otis Redding Foundation, Macon, Ga.
  •  Teatro Avante, Miami, Fla.
  •  True Colors Theatre Company, Atlanta, Ga.

South Arts’ Southern Cultural Treasures is supported by the Ford Foundation, with additional support from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the Infusion Fund, a partnership between the City of Charlotte, the Foundation for the Carolinas and donors who support the arts and cultural sector, as well as the Zeist Foundation.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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