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The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Cultural Experience Project Has an Exciting Year of Firsts

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Cultural Experience Project completed its twelfth year and served over 32,000 Atlanta Public Schools (APS) students. This year also marked a number of “firsts” in the program’s history. For the first time ever, the Cultural Experience Project (CEP) opened the program to all APS students—those who attend both traditional and charter schools. In the past, only students enrolled in traditional schools participated in the CEP programming.

This year also was significant, as we welcomed to the fold one of Atlanta’s newest, and coolest, cultural venues—the College Football Hall of Fame. In addition to learning fun football-related factoids through the lenses of math, science and history, the students also were able to track their favorite college football team throughout their experience and get some time in on the indoor turf.

Another first this year was an amazing partnership with ZuCot Gallery. Located in Atlanta’s Castleberry neighborhood, ZuCot Gallery is a small African American art gallery owned by the Henderson brothers. CEP experiences at ZuCot included much more than the traditional gallery talk. Students who visited ZuCot got plenty of one-on-one time with gallery director/owner Onaje Henderson. Mr. Henderson was generous with his time, and talked with the students at length about the details of managing a small art gallery (Business 101). And, for each school that visited, Mr. Henderson made sure that one of the gallery’s artists was on hand—not only to talk about the art on the wall, but also to talk about his experience as a working artist. Students loved it, and asked tons of great questions about the business of running an art gallery as well as what it takes to make a living as an artist.

The 2016-2017 academic year marked the first time CEP worked with France-Atlanta. The program, Cartooning for Peace, brought together local and international political cartoonists to talk about the role political cartoons play not only during an election year, but also their role in a democracy. Atlanta’s own Mike Luckovitch participated, and fielded questions from students eager to learn about the intersection of art and politics.

Also this year, CEP welcomed the Chattahoochee Nature Center back to the program. Students who visited the Center learned about Georgia’s many ecosystems and had opportunities to meet some of the animals that call those environments home. They also learned about the importance of caring for our environment, conserving our natural resources and respecting nature.

Another organization that returned after a brief hiatus was Theatrical Outfit. High School students sat for two presentations of Thurgood, a one-man performance about the life and career of famed attorney and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

As we prepare for our 13th year—working, again, alongside staff at many of Atlanta’s premier cultural and arts organizations, we look back on this year and say, thank you, to our venue partners, and to APS and its amazing staff. We especially thank our funding organizations and donors: The Kendeda Fund, Zeist Foundation, MailChimp, H.J. Russell Family, Mark & Evelyn Trammell Foundation, Charles Loridans Foundation, Conolly Family Foundation, PNC Bank, Georgia Power Foundation, and the Jack and Anne Glenn Foundation. Together, they raised $539,000. These experiences could not happen without this important financial support or without everyone’s hard work and dedication to Atlanta’s youth. Thank you! We look forward to seeing everyone next year for many more fantastic Atlanta cultural experiences with CEP.