Established in 2017 by Atlanta City Council legislation, Arts & Entertainment Atlanta (A&E Atlanta) is a neighborhood activation and economic development project for Downtown Atlanta. A&E Atlanta fuses new media, local art, and performance with advertising to fund cultural and public space programming in the city’s core.
Atlanta City Council adopted policy legislation that established the district’s goals, location and aesthetic guidelines. This policy guides the implementation and operations of the district’s sign permitting. A Sign Plan was adopted into the City of Atlanta Zoning Code Sign Ordinance in 2017 that describes the supplemental types and amount of signage allowed in the district. The district is limited to a total number of 25 sign locations.
It is not big and gaudy like Times Square, but downtown Atlanta now features an Arts & Entertainment (A&E) District, an area with large-scale light displays and outdoor art that provides a look at the city’s rich artistic and cultural landscape. https://t.co/BAaLsG2utB
A&E Atlanta is managed by the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) and self-funds its management and programming through revenue-sharing agreements with media companies within the district. An Advisory Council is in place, comprised of 14 individuals that represent the community, among them Downtown residents, business, entertainment, and arts + culture leaders.
Where is the District?
The district geography is in the core of the center city, bounded generally to the west by Northside Drive; to the north by Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard; to the east by Interstate 75/85 and Courtland Street; and to the south by Trinity Avenue.
A&E Atlanta, media companies, property owners...who does what?
A&E Atlanta provides the framework, governance, and oversight of the district and its activations at large. It is also responsible for stewarding the arts funding that is created through revenue sharing agreements with media companies.
Property owners located within the district and their qualified partner media companies, once they have successfully completed the application, permitting, fabrication, and implementation of signs, work together to program their sites with signage and art components.
The art is integrated into the advertising in a number of potential ways, whether it be a permanent mural or a video piece. We're starting to get pieces now that are much more integrated, really part of the architecture, which is a big part of our thinking. - David Hamilton, Praxis3 Architecture, A&E Atlanta Advisory Committee member
So, where is the art?
All sign locations are required to have an art or cultural component. Art components currently include murals and featured local artwork on digital signs (like the examples pictured above).
In 2020, A&E Atlanta advanced efforts to support current local arts programming and commission new, innovative experiences. Many of the concepts identified were developed in collaboration with a focus group of local artists and incorporated the arts and culture strategic framework for the district.
In late 2019 and early 2020, A&E Atlanta supported PRISM: Winter Lights in Woodruff Park by adding PRISM promotional content to digital signs and commissioning complementary digital artwork created by ZooasZoo and Sebastian Monroy. PRISM returns to Woodruff Park December 5, 2020 with a pilot art projection mapping exhibit on the waterwall presented by A&E Altanta.
The arts programming also gives A&E Atlanta a unique opportunity for storytelling. A district initiative called “Local Stories” will highlight historic and cultural stories unique to Downtown Atlanta on the digital signage. The boards will showcase images and events that connect these narratives to iconic places and events in Downtown. The Local Stories programmatic framework was developed in partnerships with the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Community Development Assistance Program.
We have a tremendous amount of respect for our peers at the Times Square Alliance, but A&E Atlanta does not intend to try and recreate the NYC landmark in Downtown. The goal is to elevate Atlanta art and artists in a way that reflects the authenticity of Atlanta. For a more comparable comparison, check out the Denver Theatre District.
Our goal is to learn from the Denver Theatre District, but also celebrate what makes Atlanta unique and bring that excitement to be celebrated in Downtown Atlanta. - Toni Williams, Cultivating Cultures, A&E Atlanta Advisory Committee member
What's on the horizon?
More signs, more public art, and more public arts and culture programming! Follow us at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay in the know.
For questions and more information about Arts & Entertainment Atlanta, contact Fredalyn M. Frasier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media inquiries should be directed to Wilma Sothern at email@example.com.
Footnotes Photos courtesy of Brock Scott for Living Walls, Justin Chan Photography, Orange Barrel Media, and The Wilbert Group.