Tiffany LaTrice, Executive Director, TILA Studios
According to Forbes, “one of the biggest media trends of 2018 is going to be the growth of niche content…rather than pursuing a traditional strategy.” Just like major brands target small, niche communities, the art community is pivoting to do the same.
The truth is that creatives, art historians, critics, theorists and curators do not want, need or look for the same thing and one art institution cannot serve the entire creative ecosystem like it used to. And honestly, the rise and preference of social media as a tool to be exposed to arts and culture has, indeed, become the new normal. This article is not about condemning the past or saying that established art organizations are not needed. Instead, I am arguing that niche organizations have the capacity to create local macro impact and therefore inform institutions to foster a greater dialogue.
The rapid growth and establishment of small art organizations has positively impacted the communities and neighborhoods around them. In the past two years, I have seen art organizations make East Point their home like the Windmill Arts Center, The Vault, ArtsExchange, Gill Gallery, including my own,TILA Studios, and join forces with the long standing organizations like Ballethnic.
Each of these organizations have a niche focus – whether it’s cultivating small theatrical performances for emerging playwrights, targeting artists that need financial wellness and assistance or focusing on bridging the gender and racial gap. Although each organization may tackle one topic or issue, collectively we serve the entire community. So much so, that we are now seeing policy changes and funding given to build a strategic arts plan. Without these organizations existing, we would have not seen this shift.
The 2016 Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development states that “culture is a key tool for promoting sustainable urban development, by preserving the urban identity and the environment, attracting activities and visitors, fostering the development of the creative economy and of the quality of life.” It is evident that in order to have a flourishing art workforce we must preserve a community’s urban identify. Therefore, these niche art organizations are critical to the infrastructure of how and why a community or city thrives.
Art is like the secret weapon for social change and the tool that can make any uncomfortable conversation manageable. Seeing communities like Hapeville, College Park, and even the West End invest in their creative workforce, and East Point now opting into this change, Southwest Atlanta is emerging as the new forefront of arts and culture. And let’s not forget about Fort McPherson and its commitment to arts development.
What I am excited to see is how these art organizations will align with other organizations across Georgia to create a more hybrid, interconnected community where ideas are exchanged and resources shared. We have a unique opportunity now to start thinking about how to incite and create this change. As well as see how these small but mighty giants will unite Atlanta and position us as a premier arts destination.
Featured image (top) is “Ballethnic” by M Dowdell