News Blog

OCA Delays Cultural Experience Project Trips Until 2021


In accordance with the City of Atlanta’s reopening guidelines and best practices as advised by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and peer health organizations, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) will delay offering our Cultural Experience Project’s on-site experiences until the second half of the school year.

As Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and other school districts in metro Atlanta grapple with the challenges of the upcoming school year, it is in everyone’s best interest to allow administrators and staff to focus on providing quality education to tens of thousands of students.

Following the completion of the first half of the school year, we will work with APS and our venue partners to evaluate how best to resume the Cultural Experience Project (CEP) program while adhering to what health guidelines may be at that time.

Since mid-May, our office has worked tirelessly with our many cultural partners on how to continue providing these beloved experiences to APS students. Like our cultural partners, we are concerned about the health and safety of students, teachers, chaperones, and colleagues during the world’s current health climate.

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs expects that by late fall we will have a better understanding of the situation and will make decisions regarding future trips in concert with APS and our cultural venue partners.

CEP Closes 15th Anniversary on a High Note

The Cultural Experience Project’s 15th anniversary year is ending, and more than 45,000 Atlanta Public Schools (APS) students visited 25-plus cultural venues during the 2019-20 school year. Among these diverse experiences include visits to the Atlanta Symphony, True Colors Theatre Company, Chattahoochee Nature Center, Ballethnic Dance Company, the Atlanta History Center, and many more.

We are deeply grateful for our partnership with APS and the many metro-Atlanta cultural venues who partnered with us this year. Furthermore, we owe a tremendous thanks to the individual donors and experience sponsors who supported CEP trips, as well. Without your support, the program could not exist. We are thankful for your continued support and commitment to Atlanta’s youth.

In early February, we released the Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit cultural experience proposals for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.

If your organization would like to be considered as a venue partner for one of next year’s experiences, please follow the link below to review the RFP. The deadline to submit your proposal is March 20, 2020.

Request for Proposals for 2020-21 CEP Experiences

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs is excited to enter the Cultural Experience Project 16th year and continue to actualize our motto for all Atlanta Public Schools students: One grade. One Venue. Guaranteed.

CEP Kicks Off New Year with Romare Bearden and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Experiences

As Atlanta Public Schools’ students and teachers return from the holiday break, the High Museum of Art and the King Center will welcome them to our first Cultural Experience Project (CEP) trips of 2020.

At the High Museum, students will experience “Something Over Something Else” from renowned artist Romare Bearden. Inspired by a 1977 New Yorker article, the two-part series of collage paintings documents the artist’s childhood in North Carolina and his experiences as a young artist in Harlem.

For the article titled “Putting Something Over Something Else”, Bearden (1911-1988) described the process of making collages and reflected on his life, particularly his childhood and his work as an artist.

Appropriately, APS students will also visit the King Center to learn about the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Coretta Scott King, the wife of the late Civil Rights activist, created the center in 1968 shortly after the reverend’s assassination. Had he lived, Dr. King would be 91-years-old on January 15.

Fifty-two years later, the King Center not only serves as the couple’s final resting place but is also a place where millions of people come to pay their respects to two people who dedicated their lives to nonviolence and equality for all people.

Other venues APS students will visit this month include the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, and the College Football Hall of Fame.

Continue to follow us this year as we make good on our promise to ensure at least one cultural experience for all APS students: One grade. One Venue. Guaranteed.

CEP Students Experience The Nutcracker’s Final Year at the Fox Theatre

Image from the Atlanta Ballet’s production of the “The Nutcracker”. Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Ballet.

In July, the Atlanta Ballet announced that the December 2019 production of “The Nutcracker” would be its last year at Atlanta’s famed Fox Theatre. Beginning in December 2020, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center will serve as the show’s new home.

For 25 years, Fox Theatre’s audiences have delighted in the Ballet’s interpretation of the 1892 classic. The score, composed by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, provides a whimsical orchestra-supported soundtrack for the holiday season. For 15 of those 25 years, the Cultural Experience Project (CEP) has provided Atlanta Public Schools’ second-grade students with the opportunity to enjoy this Atlanta tradition.

As we prepare to close out the first semester and the 2019-20 school year, CEP students will spend December enjoying experiences from ArtsBridge, Giwayen Mata, the High Museum of Art, the Chattahoochee Nature Center, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), and Ballethnic.

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) is thankful for our partnership with Atlanta Public Schools and the generous donors and cultural venues who continue to support the program year after year. Our joint efforts provide cultural and artistic experiences for tens of thousands of Atlanta students — many of whom would not be able to enjoy these trips, otherwise.

On behalf of the OCA and the Cultural Experience Project staff, we wish you and your families a safe and joy-filled holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

OCA Hosts Ceremony Celebrating 15 Years of the Cultural Experience Project

Chief of Staff Carmen Chubb providing remarks on behalf of Mayor BottomsOn September 17, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) celebrated the Cultural Experience Project’s 15th anniversary at the Atlanta History Center.


The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) celebrated the Cultural Experience Project’s 15th anniversary at the Atlanta History Center on Tuesday, September 17.

The Atlanta History Center’s President and CEO, Sheffield Hale, welcomed those in attendance. Before making remarks, OCA Executive Director, Camille Russell Love, invited Chief of Staff, Carmen Chubb, to share greetings from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

During her presentation, Love spoke about the program’s early beginnings and the City’s enduring partnership with Atlanta Public Schools (APS).

Following Love’s remarks, APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen discussed the importance of the City’s and APS’s partnership, the vision of the program, and the impact the Cultural Experience Project (CEP) has had on APS students.

Each speaker recognized the critical role the arts play in the lives and development of children. They each expressed deep gratitude to the program’s cultural venue partners and their staff for supporting the initiative.

In addition to presentations from partner organizations, the anniversary event showcased student talent from select APS schools. North Atlanta High School students presented artwork inspired by CEP trips to the Georgia Aquarium and performed an original dance piece for the occasion.

Students from Young Middle School and Mays High School joined together to play an orchestra interlude as attendees gathered for the event. Not to be outdone, students from Smith Elementary School sang and acted out the lyrics of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”.

Now, just over six weeks into the anniversary, almost half of Atlanta Public Schools’ 52,000 students have completed experiences to 16 metro-Atlanta cultural venues.

Thus far, APS students have seen experiences from the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, the CDC Museum, Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), Ailey II at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University, the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Chick-fil-A’s Backstage Tour, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Symphony.

The value of the Cultural Experience Project rests not only in the fact that the trips tie into the state’s Georgia Standards of Excellence curriculum but also teaches students important life and character lessons.

Playwright Jason Reynolds’ “Ghost” (playing now at the Alliance Theatre) is such an example. Throughout the performance, the main character, Castle Crenshaw (aka Ghost), is confronted with numerous challenges, each one having the potential to get him into serious trouble. With the support of his family and community, Ghost takes responsibility for his mistakes and learns to strengthen his internal moral compass.

Among November’s upcoming experiences are trips to the Atlanta Opera, Hammonds House Museum, Oakland Cemetery, the APEX Museum, and ArtBridge.

We thank all the organizations who have supported CEP for the past decade and a half. Stay tuned for future updates recapping trips and milestones from the Cultural Experience Project.

OCA’s Cultural Experience Project Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Fifteen years have passed since the first group of students participated in the Cultural Experience Project (CEP).

In the years since those inaugural trips, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and our partner, Atlanta Public Schools (APS), continue to commit ourselves to each student – One Grade. One Venue. Guaranteed.

Since its inception, the program has served more than 52,000 students and raised nearly $6 million in funding from an assortment of individuals, corporations, private organizations, and foundations. And, metro-Atlanta’s cultural venues have supported the program’s efforts every step of the way —providing experiences rich with fun and engaging learning opportunities.

As we kick off the new year and celebrate this important milestone, we reflect on the impact each experience has had on APS students, teachers, and chaperones, alike.

We are grateful for the generosity of donors, and we appreciate the commitment cultural venue staff demonstrate through the thoughtful and mind-expanding curricula they create.

During this 15th-anniversary year, we will highlight moments from the program’s past. We also will keep an eye to the future while ensuring each APS student continues to have annual cultural experiences.

The Cultural Experience Project will kick-off its 15th anniversary with an event on Tuesday, September 17, at 3 p.m., at the Atlanta History Center. Make sure to check back soon to learn about each experience we host during the school year.

APS Students Prepare for Trips to the Woodruff Arts Center and Atlanta Botanical Garden

January may have brought some of the City’s coldest temperatures, but spring is quickly approaching! 

In February, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) kindergarten students will visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden. This annual Cultural Experience Project trip is an APS favorite and treats more than 3,700 students to a wonderful day in the garden. During the visit, students will experience the new Orchid Daze exhibition and enjoy the Garden’s other fascinating collections. 

Later this month, APS high school students will visit the Woodruff Arts Center and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to see She Composes!This year’s symphony experience will exclusively feature music by female composers — a first for the revered Atlanta institution!

The morning concert, led by conductor Maestro Mulligan, will introduce students to some of the unsung female pioneers of classical music.

Follow APS students as they continue exploring the city’s cultural offering through the Cultural Experience Project.

CEP and APS Students Prepare for 2019 Trips

As 2019 begins, several Cultural Experience Project (CEP) trips will get underway in early January.

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) students will start the year by visiting Chick-fil-A’s Atlanta campus for the company’s Backstage Tours.

The Tour is designed to give students an inside look at Chick-fil-A’s business model and founder Truett Cathy’s principles and vision for the company.

Also, in January, students will visit the College Football Hall of Fame, the Chattahoochee Nature Center, The King Center, and the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA).

Stay tuned as we continue to follow APS students on their many cultural adventures throughout the city.

APS Students Experience Two Dynamic Multicultural Performances Courtesy of Atlanta Opera, Alliance Theatre


In November, the Atlanta Opera and the Alliance Theatre thrilled Atlanta Public Schools (APS) students with productions of “West Side Story” and “Paige in Full”, respectively.  

A modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” presented by the Atlanta Opera, “West Side Story” remains culturally relevant more than six decades after its Broadway debut in 1957.  

The story embeds the APS students into diverse communities constantly engaged with the ever-present possibilities of hate, love, triumph and tragedy. West Side Story’s lively use of storytelling evoked some powerful lessons to the students.  

During Alliance Theatre’s production of “Paige in Full”, APS students met Paige — a multiracial and multicultural woman who grew up in 1980s Baltimore. Paige’s hour-long, autobiographical “mixtape” took students through her personal journey to self-acceptance. The dynamic, music-filled performance helped students understand the importance of valuing the entirety of who they are, and not only selected elements.  

Coming up in December, APS students will head to the Fox Theater for an APS exclusive preview of the Atlanta Ballet’s reinterpretation of the holiday classic The Nutcracker.  This production of the ageless tales is the ballet’s first completely new production of the story in 20 years. The new Nutcracker promises to delight another group of APS students. 

As we prepare to close out 2018 and welcome in a new year, we thank you for supporting the Cultural Experience Project and Atlanta Public Schools students. Enjoy the holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you in 2019!

APS Students Experience the Dynamic Dancing of Ailey II

Photo Courtesy Rialto Center for the Arts. Photographer: Judy Ondrey



Hosted by the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) high school students experienced the dynamic and thrilling choreography of Ailey II as one of October’s Cultural Experience Project (CEP) trips.

Ailey II, the junior company of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is a universally celebrated dance company known for developing some of the country’s best young dancers.

As part of Ailey II’s Rialto residency activities, the company performed some of their most admired routines for the APS students, including Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece “Revelations”.

APS students also had the opportunity to learn choreography from the company’s dancers and performed a dance routine they created.

Throughout November, APS students will continue engaging the city’s cultural offerings with productions of “West Side Story” and “Paige in Full” presented by the Atlanta Opera and the Alliance Theatre, respectively. Students will also attend experiences at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Oakland Cemetery, ZuCot Gallery, the Atlanta History Center, and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn about the many cultural experiences enjoyed by APS students.

Also, in February, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform at the Fox Theatre or a four-day residency from February 21-24, 2019.

To purchase tickets, click here.

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Brings 27 Cultural Experiences to Atlanta Public Schools Students

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs is pleased to announce that 27 Atlanta-area cultural venues were selected to participate in the 2018-2019 Cultural Experience Project (CEP). This year marks the program’s 14th year, and we are thrilled to welcome this year’s venue partners to the program.

The Cultural Experience Project was created to ensure that every Atlanta Public Schools (APS) student – pre-K through 12th grade – has access to at least one cultural experience each year he or she is enrolled in an APS school. The program is a partnership between Atlanta Public Schools and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Funding for the program is made possible by the generous support of public and private foundations and companies, as well as donations by individual donors. Additional information about the program’s supporters will be announced in the fall.

Please join our office in welcoming this year’s partner venues (see below). We are excited to work with their staff and look forward to hearing about the many phenomenal experiences APS students will have.

Alliance Theatre
Atlanta Ballet
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta History Center
Atlanta Opera
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
APEX Museum
Ballethnic Dance Company
Chattahoochee Nature Center
Chick-fil-A Backstage Tour
Children’s Museum
College Football Hall of Fame
David J. Sencer CDC Museum
Georgia Aquarium
Giwayen Mata
High Museum of Art
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum
Moving in the Spirit
Museum of Design Atlanta
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Oakland Cemetery
Rialto Center for the Arts
The King Center
Theatrical Outfit
True Color Theatre Company
ZuCot Gallery

Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Releases Annual Report

The City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA), which manages the city’s multiple cultural and arts-based endeavors, recently released its 2017 Annual Report. The report highlights OCA’s efforts to spur stronger and more inclusive growth and explains the surprising economic impact the arts provide.

The report also demonstrates the collective impact of the OCA, whose subunits include Gallery 72, Chastain Arts Center, the city’s Public Art Services, and the Atlanta Jazz Festival, just to name a few, which generates surprising fiscal value for metro Atlanta in the form of approximately $15 million in economic impact to the city through its annual Atlanta Jazz Festival and ELEVATE temporary public art festival. Furthermore, the report reveals the direct and indirect benefits the OCA provides Atlantans through its various programs, such as the more than 30,000 Atlanta Public Schools students it engages annually via its Cultural Experience Project (CEP).

To view the OCA’s 2017 Annual Report, please use the following link. Follow the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest announcements.

OCA 2017 Annual Report