Address: 982 Memorial Dr. SE Atlanta, GA 30316
Phone (if available): 404-254-5955
Open Hours: M,T,Th,F,S; 12pm – 10pm
How is the project operated?
WonderRoot is a 501(c)3 non-profit arts organization. We have a bit of a hybrid model. The organization is run as a traditional non-profit, but the art center functions in part like a co-op. Additionally, most all of our programs and initiatives have advisory committees made up of artists, art patrons and community representatives.
How long has it been in existence?
We began talking about WonderRoot in 2002 and formally emerged in 2004. It wasn’t until early 2008 that we opened the WonderRoot Community Arts Center.
What was your motivation?
Our motivation was, and still is, to make Atlanta a more vibrant, equitable and sustainable city through the arts.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
Chris Appleton, Alex West and Witt Wisebram started talking about WonderRoot back in 2002. The 9 founding board members got involved in 2006. While WonderRoot has a staff of 4, there are countless people involved and responsible for WonderRoot’s growth and impact.
How are programs funded?
WonderRoot is rather diversely funded. We are not relying on any one person or institution to underwrite a disproportionate amount of our programs. The majority of our support comes from individual giving and institutional support. Membership dues and other earned revenue contribute to our income as well. Recently, we have been focused on building relationships with small businesses, not only because of the financial support, but we increasingly believe in the importance of having strong partnerships with other stakeholders in a local economy.
Who is responsible for the programming?
Maggie Ginestra, our Creative Director, and Kwajelyn Jackson, Manager of the WonderRoot Community Arts Center, make the WonderRoot world go round. They are most responsible for the day to day programs and services that WonderRoot provides. Additionally, we have a great team of volunteers and interns that contribute to our programming.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
WonderRoot presents about a dozen or so exhibitions per year. About half of of those happen at the Arts Center, and the others happen in both traditional and non-traditional art spaces. Exhibitions can range from one night to 2 months.
What kind of events are usually organized?
This is a tough question to answer, as the word “usually” makes things complicated. Every year, WonderRoot hosts more than 150 music shows, a dozen or so visual art exhibitions, artist workshops, youth programs, public art exhibits, seminars, lectures, film screenings, literary readings and more.
How is your programming determined?
We love this question, as it gets the heart of WonderRoot’s process. Most all of WonderRoot’s programs emerge when the community comes to us. WonderRoot seeks to be a resource and conduit for other’s while maintaining a focus on our mission and values. That’s not to say we don’t have ideas of our own of course — we do. We simply believe that a community-driven organization should be a good listener.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Our favorite submissions are the unsolicited conversations and emails that lead to a new collaboration or idea, be it for a monthly program, a workshop or a one-time exhibition. Some of our programming does call for formal proposals, such as our Walthall Artist Fellowship, which is a yearlong professional development program for 12 Atlanta-area artists, and The Imaginary Million, a juried exhibition and auction for 100 artists.
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
We are thinking first and foremost about relationships, how we might build them through our programming, or how we are communicating relationships that already exist. This allows our aesthetics to adapt to our listening, and makes the process of curating an exhibition nearly the same as planning a party or panel discussion.
What’s working? What’s not working?
We fail a lot, and we like to say “Yes!” until circumstances assert themselves. We think big and then scale back, and we try new things every day. This sometimes makes it easier to know what isn’t working than what is working, which is how we like it, as it keeps us at the drawing board.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We hope that WonderRoot is an organization that both artists and communities in-need look to for support and resources. It is our hope that the role we play is one of advocate, ambassador and challenger. We believe that in partnership with others we can have the greatest impact.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
Atlanta’s emergence as a city where artists and activist work in unison for a vibrant and equitable city.
James McAnally is the executive editor and co-founder of Temporary Art Review. A graduate of Washington University, James McAnally is a founder, Co-Director, and Curator of The Luminary Center for the Arts, a nonprofit artist resourcing organization based in St. Louis. In his personal practice, he works as part of the artistic collaborative US English.