The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center will be free as of September 1! Not just on Thursdays, but every day it’s open to the public. The Contemporary is eliminating admission fees as a way to increase attendance, a move that has proved successful when it has offered free admittance to such events as the recent Nexus Award presentation on May 19, as well as talks and other public programs. As stated in the press announcement, making admission free “reinforces our mission to continually engage with, grow and diversify our audiences by becoming a more inclusive and dynamic public space.”
In the press statement, board president Tim Schrager says: “Breaking down the financial barrier allows us to expose a wider audience to contemporary art exhibitions and programs, and by doing so we believe Atlanta Contemporary can make significant strides in fostering community engagement.”
The move bucks the trend among larger institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art to raise admission prices, increases that often pay for new building construction and other maintenance and collection costs.
To offset the potential loss of membership revenue, the Contemporary will debut a new membership model in the fall that is intended “to activate members as civic donors and emphasize audience-building by rewarding continued engagement through repeat visits.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose set admission price is only “recommended,” raised its membership dues in 2014. Full details on the Contemporary’s new membership plan will be announced later this summer, but it will include members-only previews, behind-the-scenes interactions with curators and artists, and discounted tickets to ART PARTY.
Though not mentioned in the press release, the Contemporary last year received a $200,000 capitalization grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. According to the foundation’s website, the funds were given “to increase and diversify its audience and donor base. The grant will fund investments in technology, marketing infrastructure and fundraising capacity.”
Other upcoming developments for the Contemporary are a redesigned website launching in the fall, and a new logo: