MARTA Launches New Public Art Program

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MARTA launched its new ArtsBound program at Five Points Station.
MARTA launched its new ArtsBound program at Five Points Station.

MARTA, Atlanta’s rapid transit authority, has launched a new program, ArtsBound, to add public art and performances throughout the system. Using the percent-for-art model that funds public art in numerous cities, MARTA will set aside one percent of its annual budget, amounting to $2.5 to $3 million in funding for the art projects.

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ArtsBound will include permanent installations as well as performances, art-focused community activities and system-wide art restoration projects. The program was launched on Monday, June 19, at an event at Five Points MARTA Station that included Moving in the Spirit dance company and cellist Jenn Cornell.

Last December, MARTA hired Katherine Dirga, the former manager of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport art program, to spearhead the new initiative, which was approved by MARTA’s Board of Directors in 2016.

“Our approach is to install high-quality, captivating pieces that transcend various artistic genres and reflect, in some way, the vibrancy and history of the community,” said Dirga. She says they’ll soon be putting our a call for artists for the permanent commissions, with temporary commissions to come in the future. Fahamu Pecou will install a large mural this year at the H.E. Holmes station (in collaboration with WonderRoot), and a call will be going out for a piece in the underpass at Grant Street at King Memorial.

Keith Parker, MARTA’s CEO, said that installing a work at the H.E. Holmes station was a priority. Hamilton Holmes was one of the first black students to attend the University of Georgia and later earned his M.D. at Emory University. Parker hopes to teach the public about Holmes and other individuals and topics through public art.

In no small way, ArtsBound is modeled after New York City’s MTA Arts & Design program (previously Arts for Transit). Its director, Sandra Bloodworth, will be speaking at Atlanta Contemporary on July 20 [click here for info]. Dirga will also present at the event, which is sponsored by MPAC (Metropolitan Public Arts Coalition) and the Fulton County Arts Council.

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