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Art gets a boost from new campaign
Atlanta PlanIt seeks to promote artists' efforts during tough economic times
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Amid controversy surrounding the elimination of arts education in schools, there has been less debate about the dwindling support of local arts.

In a weak economy, people have been focusing on buying what they need, and art is generally seen as a "want."

Atlanta organizations have united to bring the arts back into the limelight, using the Central Arts Marketing Campaign as their guide.

Atlanta PlanIt is the driving force behind the Central Arts Marketing Campaign, serving as the online presence for the campaign to give local arts the support they need.

In addition to providing tools for cooperating organizations, Atlanta PlanIt will purchase joint ad space on behalf of the campaign.

"Through the campaign, we'll make everyone aware of just how robust and varied the region's arts scene is, and offer them resources to find arts and culture experiences they weren't aware of before," Nicole Jones of Public Broadcasting Atlanta and Atlanta PlanIt said. "Once they discover what's out there, people will realize that the arts in Atlanta expand far past the city limits, and far past what they might consider to be art."

Though Gainesville does not have its own campaign, any metro Atlanta city is invited to join this movement.

"The goal is to raise awareness in metro Atlanta about the depth and variety of this cultural community, educating metro Atlantans about the diverse opportunities available for enjoying arts in the region," Jones said. "If this goal is reached, the hope is that attendance at arts events will rise, allowing local organizations to grow and continue to provide the best quality arts to local patrons."

Don Griffin, owner of Frames You Nique, believes Gainesville has a lot to offer in the arts department.

"I believe there is good support for the arts locally, but one of the biggest problems that I see is awareness," he said. "(Gainesville Theater Alliance) does a good job of getting the message out, but there are many smaller programs that people would enjoy if they knew about it."

Though art appeals to the wants and desires of its owner, it has a deeper value as well.

"I believe that the arts make people feel, think, and enjoy life more," Griffin said. "Good art evokes emotion; it should encourage us to challenge ourselves to understand the world around us."

Anne Brodie Hill, a local artist, constantly works to promote art awareness around Gainesville.

"Seven years ago, I helped Main Street Gainesville start the Art In The Square festival in downtown Gainesville," she said. "Each year, I invite my artist friends to participate, and each year we have gotten more artists to come and gotten more interest from the community and North Georgia."

Hill is also very involved with the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, the Georgia Watercolor Society and helped start the Georgia Art League, where she served as president for three years.

"Being an artist is sometimes a solitary vocation; you work alone to create art," she said. "I feel it is so important to get to know other artists in our area - take and teach classes, and help promote each other to the community."

Promoting local art helps both the artist and community, and with the economy the way it is, Hill could use more of it.

"I do believe the arts were hurt by the poor economy in 2008 and 2009," she said. "People needed to buy groceries and gas and seemed to not have any extra money to purchase art."

However, Hill wants all to remember the warmth art brings.

"We all have images in our homes and offices that ‘take us away' to a better time and place, or evoke an incredible memory from our past," she said. "That's why most of us do not have blank walls in our homes and offices. But when it comes to putting food on the table, clothes on our children and putting gas in our cars, purchasing art is at the bottom of the list."

While art is still not at the top of most "to buy" lists, many shops around Gainesville display local work.

"So most people are waiting until the economy gets better before they purchase another painting or piece of art, but I think things are picking up for the arts in our area," Hill said.