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This year’s ELEVATE public art festival has a new home. The City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA), which hosts the week-long event, announced this week that it chose Southwest Atlanta to honor the neighborhood’s culture, history, and heroes.

Traditionally hosted in Atlanta’s south downtown area, the festival’s move to the southwest community marks the OCA’s efforts to present cultural experiences from artists and organizations like the Alliance Theatre and High Museum of Art to a new audience. The move also provides a platform to showcase Southwest Atlanta’s cultural institutions such as Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, Dancemakers of Atlanta, and the Arnika Dawkins Gallery.

“ELEVATE’s purpose has always been to unite people and the arts,” said Camille Russell Love, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “By moving the festival from downtown, it enables us to expand the reach of the city’s cultural experiences while promoting Atlanta’s unique neighborhoods.”

Kathleen Bertrand

Titled ELEVATE: S.W.A.T.S. (Southwest Atlanta, Too Strong) in honor of the community’s nickname, the festival will  commemorate the heritage of the community while infusing the area with a variety of cultural activities. Featured events include a book signing and photo exhibition by photographer Shelia Pree Bright, a theatrical production of “Bone Hill: The Concert”, “A Night of Dance” by Ailey II and the Dancemakers of Atlanta, and the “Right in the Eye” movie concert.

As well, four large-scale murals will be installed in the Cascade Business Corridor as part of an exclusive community art collection. A mural will be dedicated to the community’s five Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients: the Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian, Congressman John Lewis, the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, Ambassador Andrew Young, and Atlanta Braves legend, Henry “Hank” Aaron. In collaboration with France-Atlanta and Atlanta’s sister city of Toulouse, France, a mural by world-renowned urban artist Ceet will be installed, while a collective of metro Atlanta-based artists selected by the community will complete the collection.

The Art of the S.W.A.T.S. House, a visual celebration of artistic and musical excellence from the S.W.A.T.S., will be curated by platinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning musician T.I., and will incorporate the art of Austin Blue.

Featuring 13 different cultural events and 12 different art installations, this year’s ELEVATE will offer a diverse array of cultural experiences while celebrating the rich history, culture, and accomplishments of one of Atlanta’s strongest communities.

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