D owntown Atlanta maintains a variety of cultural entertainment for Georgia State students to enjoy, but none quite compare to its unique blend of autumn festivals; it’s almost impossible to miss the wide array of music, art and performances filling its streets weekly, and the upcoming ‘Elevate Atlanta’ festival is no exception.
‘Elevate’ is a rare combination of public art exhibitions, live performances and creative social events, culminating into a week of activities that aim to entertain and enlighten in a public forum. Elevate’s Manager and Public Art Consultant, Courtney Hammond, explained how this year’s “Social City” theme emphasizes the importance of both artistry and social awareness.
Raising the cultural standard
“Elevate is so different from any other festival going on in Atlanta, and we felt that it was really important to bring attention to what we do,” Hammond said. “We have large scale murals that our artists paint on buildings in the city, a block party that’s completely public, and a contemporary artwork series recognizing some very talented local artists. Even though that’s only a fraction of the events we have lined up, we really want to show how our movement is not only fun, but innovative and educational.”
Currently in its fourth year of operation, Elevate began as a 66-day art exhibition. Management condensed the festival to a week for larger cultural impact and increased attendance, but its events are still every bit as intriguing.
“Although Elevate is an event with a lot of independent artists and performers, many people don’t know that it’s actually organized by the mayor’s office of cultural affairs,” Hammond said. “We find it very important to interact with the city in a way that encourages community improvement. When we originally founded Elevate in 2011, we wanted to liven downtown Atlanta culturally while also advocating for economic development. Now we’ve grown into something incredible.”
Hammond stated that even though Elevate has always stood for education, economic growth and public development, their organization struggled to find businesses interested in supporting them when they first started.
“Businesses were a little reluctant to partner with us and sponsor our events the first couple of years,” Hammond said. “We were really speaking two different languages, because they didn’t understand the void in cultural education that we were trying to fill. Since then, we’ve progressed tremendously and we feel like people are finally becoming educated on everything Atlanta has to offer, culturally speaking.”
We find it very important to interact with the city in a way that encourages community improvement. […] we want to liven downtown Atlanta culturally, while also advocating for economic development”
-Courtney Hammond, Public Art Consultant
Uplifting the community
Although Elevate is still a mysterious festival to many Atlantans, Hammond assures that those who attend the events quickly realize just how positive the movement is.
“Last year was one of the best experiences we’ve had as an organization, especially with the block party,” Hammond said. “I think that event really showed the city what we’re about, because every walk of life was there. We were all in the same location, enjoying the same feeling in the same moment. We were all unified by the energy, and it really spoke volumes on what we’re trying to represent.”
Hammond stressed the importance of positive growth as a result of the festival and cited several major themes as the inspiration and branding behind Elevate’s “Social City” campaign.
“All of the art in this year’s exhibition are creations from a wide array of social circles in Atlanta whose artists collaborated to produce something unforgettable,” Hammond said. “Communication, social building, community involvement and unity are the primary themes this year, so it’s funny how things worked out. It’s actually pretty ironic because we initially didn’t intend to feature local artists in this year’s display.”
Hammond said that although local artistry wasn’t the initial point of interest, it ended up being the most accurate representation of Elevate’s effort.
“When we began to curate the event with our partners, it just so happened that a majority of the work that caught our attention was from local artists,” Hammond said. “Some local art organizations like the Goat Farm had a great eye for talent, and found some great artists in Atlanta. These artists know the city better than anyone else and maybe that’s why their work resonated with us so much.”
As Elevate approaches this week, Hammond expresses both excitement and optimism for the coming events, hoping their movement has inspired the Georgia State community.
“It’s taken some time, but we’ve definitely helped change the identity of the city,” Hammond said. “The economic change takes a while, but we’ve started a ripple effect in the community for cultural change. Elevate has a lot to offer to students and it’s definitely something that everyone can enjoy.”
View the complete brochure of Elevate events below: