Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue seeks to help local artists and vibrant art communities across the country by providing unrestricted cash awards and community support. Artadia expanded its outreach to include Atlanta in 2009 and received over 300 applicants in the city’s first award cycle. Applications for its current cycle for awards from $3,000 to $15,000 are open to Atlanta artists through September 15, 2011. Still relatively new to town, the organization is finding its voice in Atlanta’s art world. I spoke with Lila Kanner, the executive director of Artadia, to discuss the goals of the organization and its plans for Atlanta.
Founded in late 1997, Artadia gave its first unrestricted cash awards in 1999 to artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since that original award cycle, Artadia has steadily gained momentum each year and has distributed more than $2 million to 225 visual artists in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, and the San Francisco Bay Area. While giving money to artists is obviously the core mission of Artadia, the organization also helps on other levels: in addition to the cash prize, winners also gain valuable allies in the arts community, at home and in other cities of Artadia’s network.
Kanner explained that the organization’s mission is to engage on a local level, “to provide support to individual artists in cities that have few opportunities for unrestricted grants and national exposure.” Any money that is raised in Atlanta to support the award stays in Atlanta. The idea is to connect art patrons directly with visual artists in the community, which increases the visibility of individual artists as well as the art community at large. In Atlanta, Artadia has a partnership with the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center, which is currently showing some of the San Francisco awardees from 2009 in their current show Material Deposits. (Click here for BURNAWAY’s review.) Similarly, Atlanta award winners were featured in a 2010 exhibition at the Mills Gallery in Boston.
Kanner and her team understand that supporting individual artists is not enough. They need to develop relationships with galleries, museums, publications, art critics, and collectors for their process to work effectively.
Larry Walker, a veteran Atlanta artist and winner of an award in the last cycle, says Artadia’s efforts help increase the exposure of Atlanta’s artists on a national level, but that it “cannot and should not be expected to raise awareness of Atlanta artists with the wave of a hand.”
Walker’s advice for the next crop of applicants, and art supporters in general, is to “be supportive of Artadia’s efforts to help artists …. Atlanta and artists in the area could use outside efforts to gain wider visibility.” Being involved with the organization has brought him more exposure outside of Atlanta with an exhibition in Boston, inclusion on Artadia’s artist registry website, and the publication of 5 Cities / 41 Artists, a catalogue of artists from two years of award cycles. (Click here for BURNAWAY’s review.)
After applications are submitted for each award cycle, there is a two-part selection process. The first round takes place in New York, where a three-person panel looks through digital slides to narrow the selection down to fifteen artists. Round two takes place in Atlanta and is composed of forty-five-minute studio visits with each of the fifteen finalists. The term “studio” is flexibly defined and can essentially be anywhere you like; the panel has seen kitchen tables and garages, as well as gallery spaces and more traditional studios. Kanner says that “in-person studio visits are very rare in the world of arts funding, and like our democratic, open application process we dedicate important resources to keep this element of the program.” There is always a local juror on each panel who is actively involved in the arts scene. At the end of the studio visits, panelists select seven award winners, two of whom receive awards of $15,000, while the other five receive awards of $3,000. For young artists, it’s important have your work in front of knowledgeable people, and, whether or not you win, your work will be seen by movers and shakers of the art world.
Kanner explained that Artadia always meets with curators of the Whitney Biennial, so “that they will take note of the strong artists and practices resident in Atlanta and Artadia’s other partner communities.”
Artadia is still a relatively young nonprofit, but in its fourteen years, it has grown and will continue to expand. Artadia has been able to grow beyond unrestricted cash awards to include a publications program, an online artist registry for awardees, an annual artist-in-residence program based in Brooklyn with partner organization International Studio and Curatorial Program, and a national exhibition exchange that facilitated the showing of the 2009 Atlanta awardees in Boston and similar exhibitions in other cities. This year, Artadia’s book, 5 Cities / 41 Artists, featured the winners of the 2008/2009 award cycle. Kanner said the books are something they would like to continue with each award cycle, focusing on a different theme each year in order to keep the series “current and engaging.”
For the moment, Artadia has its hands full in the five cities where the award is currently offered. Kanner explained it takes at least two years to develop a program in a city, and although in the future they would like to expand, they want to take the time to continue to develop the program in Atlanta. Kanner said that the Artadia staff “observed a fresh and palpable sense of optimism and possibility in [Atlanta]. And that’s very exciting.” From pop-up spaces to established galleries, the city has a “great tradition of entrepreneurism,” which constantly breeds new ideas. Kanner adds that “projects like the BeltLine and nonprofits like WonderRoot are uniquely Atlanta.”
Applying for the Artadia award is free, and you can access the online application at Artadia’s website. Eligibility is currently open to any visual artist or collaborative living in twenty-three counties of the metro Atlanta area regardless of discipline, age, career stage, or education. A few exclusions do apply, so check the eligibility requirements before submitting. Applications are due by September 15, 2011.
The website also provides registration information for webinars to help artists apply:
1. Artadia Awards Webinar: Online Information Session
Tuesday, August 23, 11AM-12Noon
2. Artadia Awards Webinar II: Special Focus on Studio Visit Best Practices
Thursday, September 1, 2011, at 7PM.