Neda Abghari, Executive Director at The Creatives Project

In Atlanta, the arts have always rumbled. That rumble, however, has had to fight the ear muffs created by lack of funds, neighborhood isolations and a slew of other factors. In recent years these obstacles have become significantly less formidable, and the flood of creative content has swooned and soared. A considerable amount of the influx of innovation can and should be attributed to The Creatives Project, the beloved non-profit dedicated to connecting artists with their communities and vice versa. Through artist residencies combined with outreach programs, TCP has cultivated an environment of giving and flourishing inherently fostered  by a need for those exact type of exchanges. This week BANG! had the pleasure of interviewing Neda Abghari, Executive Director of The Creatives Project.

BANG! There is a fair amount of exclusivity innate to different creative genres within Atlanta. How does The Creatives Project plan to handle that while simultaneously working to unite different fronts?

Neda Abghari TCP has always embraced a multidisciplinary approach when planning special events and now with the steady growth of our organization we are excited to incorporate this throughout other aspects of our programming.  This year through our outreach efforts we will collaborate with organizations outside the visual arts to create more well rounded experiences for our youth outreach beneficiaries while building relationships outside of the visual arts community.  As our organization continues to expand we also look forward to providing resources to these other creative genres to include musician, writers, and performance based artists.

BANG! Are the artists selected for residency programs determined upon how their chosen mediums could impact the communities the outreach efforts target?

Neda Abghari Not necessarily as the resident artists  are chosen on the merit of their work and their experience/ potential as strong educators with in the community. Outreach programming is created and customized based on the artists who are awarded the residency.

 Jerushia Hannah, TCP artist

Jerushia Hannah, TCP artist

BANG! In addition, which medium have you seen those communities embrace the most?

Neda Abghari Many of the individuals and communities we serve do not have access to arts programming in general so our artists are embraced with excitement and gratitude regardless of the medium! 

BANG! Why do you think Atlanta has somewhat lagged in creating a more concrete and simultaneously outspoken representation of artists?

Neda Abghari Artists come up through our great educational institutions excited about launching their careers and find themselves with no where to go. They often leave in search of more supportive markets simply because Atlanta's will not accommodate them. Although we now have a plethora of tireless organizations working to create new opportunities and a slew of galleries and curators working to maintain and expand the foundation they have built, historically the City of Atlanta has not placed an emphasis on supporting these efforts.
We live in an amazing city full of residents, businesses, organizations, and artists working together to create a better city through the engagement of arts. I look forward to The City of Atlanta matching our efforts in creating an infrastructure in which a sustainable arts market can flourish and our talents choose to stay.

BANG! What kind of arts community do you envision for Atlanta and what do you think The Creatives Project’s maximum contribution can be to that culture when all is said and done?

Neda Abghari In my dreams Atlanta artists, writers, dancers, musician, film makers, designers, and other creatives are ALWAYS celebrated and valued for their ability to enhance our everyday lives through the arts. They are financially supported to do what they do best: inspire, challenge, and create. With our support they continue to envision, create, and recreate our vibrant city as the best version of itself for years upon years where the colorful fabric of our past weaves our solid future as the progressive new south. The Creatives Project nurtures the city's healthy heartbeat through it's cycle of good where patrons provides roofs to artists who train the youth to blossom and continue the process of giving to receive. TCP host creatives from across the nation and around the globe to take part in a very special residency (est. Fall 2014) that further informs and nurtures Atlanta's healthy arts ecosystem while showcasing our sweet southern charm and hospitality. In my dreams, EVERYONE, no matter how near or far knows why #weloveatl. 

BANG! How would you say art mobilizes youth through the outreach programs? What kind of tools have you seen the artists share with the kids in their respective projects?

Neda Abghari This year all of TCP's 2013 youth outreach programs are service learning projects encouraging youth participants to unite through self expression while supporting local causes. Under the guidance of our Residents, students brainstorm and collaborate on their own to determine how they want to work together to impact their communities. This year's projects were a compilation of their ideas to encourage community beautification, exercise and health, recycling, accessibility to art, and family outings. Students interacted deeply with their local communities and stake holders using creativity as a vehicle to create change through the arts. Our resident artists have had a profound impact on our outreach beneficiaries. They are deeply and personally committed to service through the arts and have been able to instill this value amongst our youth participants. 

 Perkenson Elementary Mural

Perkenson Elementary Mural

BANG! In addition, what have you seen change about the artists during their time participating in those programs, in their work or perhaps in the focus behind their work?

Neda Abghari The two year residency has provided the artists with time, space, and experience enabling them to dig deep, explore, create, and share on so many levels. They have always been so open to the experience and each other that the process has also allowed their work to evolve and expand while connecting them to great career opportunities. I have witnessed each artist become more and more committed to their practice not only as artists, but also as educators and change makers. When they entered the program they were inspired and now they are inspirational. 

BANG! While arts education has been facing budget cuts across the line, these programs provide a triumph against the dismantling. Where do you see the programs expanding to in the future?

Neda Abghari We will continue to reach into specific, highly under served neighborhoods in Metro Atlanta by offering TCP’s programming to schools, community centers and neighborhoods with very high concentrations of children living in low income situations who may also have disabilities or other developmental delays. We believe in collaboration and therefore are always identifying new program partners to help expand our reach across these communities. As we continue to build new and existing relationships our programs will grow to support creatives from other genres like music, performance, film, and design, allowing us to give back through educational outreach in those areas as well. TCP's goal will always be to unite the arts, education, community, and commerce towards building a better Atlanta.

Currently, TCP has placed a call for submissions  for residencies in The Creative Community Housing Project (CCHP). Also, if you'd like to get involved with givin' back, lend a hand or donate to the 2013 Summer Arts Supply Drive.

-Miles Jenson