Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (The Contemporary) is a non-profit, non-collecting institution dedicated to the creation, presentation, and advancement of contemporary art by emerging and established artists. ACAC creates a diverse cultural landscape for artists, arts professionals, and the art-interested public through its Exhibitions, Educational programming, and Studio Artist Program.
Founded in 1973 as Nexus, a grassroots artists’ cooperative, The Contemporary has become one of the southeast’s leading contemporary art centers. We play a vital role in Atlanta’s cultural landscape by presenting cutting-edge contemporary art reflective of the world around us, offering diverse educational programming for people of all ages, and supporting working artists and their creative process.
The Contemporary presents six–10 exhibitions within four seasonal cycles each year, featuring consequential artists from the local to international art scenes. We are one of the few local institutions that commissions new works by artists. We pay particular attention to artists of note who have not had a significant exhibition in the southeast. We organize 50-plus diverse educational offerings a year, unrivaled by other local organizations of our size. We are the only local institution providing on-site subsidized studio space to 14 working artists, removing cost as a barrier to the creative process. We are free to the public every Thursday with extended hours and programming, removing time and cost as barriers to participation.
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center is a leader in the presentation of consequential contemporary art from around the world, and a destination for diverse art-loving audiences. The state-of-the-art facility allows a diverse range of exhibitions and educational programs including an expanded Studio Artist Program. These programs play a significant role in the advancement of the careers of artists and arts professionals as well as the engagement of diverse audiences. The Contemporary is empowered by a significant financial endowment, coupled with foundation, corporate, individual, and member support. With a four-decade long commitment to experimentation, understanding, and collaboration, The Contemporary is a driving force in Atlanta’s cultural community.
In 2010, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta awarded The Contemporary a Nonprofit Toolbox Award for strategic planning. The Board of Directors, staff, and a consultant from the Georgia Center for Nonprofits spent 2010 seeking out and analyzing community feedback about our institution. This and other data helped us revise our strategic plan, creating a road map for the next five years, and we are energized about our plans for growth and continued success.
We’d like to share some of the goals of the strategic plan that increase our ability to fulfill our mission and serve you better.
1. Broaden the visibility of The Contemporary via an aggressive PR/marketing campaign.
2. Develop and grow our Board of Directors and staff members.
3. Improve the facility to better accommodate our programs and events. Learn more about our 2013 Capital Campaign.
4. Expand and diversify exhibitions and educational programming.
5. Cultivate new income streams with a focus on increasing corporate support, individual giving, and events.
6. Increase our membership through exciting initiatives and benefits.
For over 40 years, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center has maintained a passionate and professional commitment to contemporary art. Our exhibitions and programs have received recognition from artists, peer organizations, private and public foundations, government agencies, and the critical community.
The Contemporary is a non-profit 501c3 organization.
Founded in 1973 by a group of Atlanta photographers, Nexus was a storefront cooperative gallery supported by member dues and staffed by volunteers. In 1976, the organization leased an old elementary school and began to increase its activities and formalize its infrastructure. Nexus Press, dedicated to creating unique publications by invited artists, was begun, and studio spaces for working artists became a core part of the organization.
Nexus marked its 10th anniversary with a commitment to develop a higher public profile, expand its Board of Directors, and increase its financial security through fundraising efforts. In 1984, the name of the organization was officially changed to Nexus Contemporary Art Center. The Atlanta Biennial and Art Party became signature events during this period. In 1989, seeking a permanent home, the Board completed a $1.95 million capital campaign to renovate a 30,000 square foot warehouse complex on Means Street, near the Georgia Tech campus.
The multi-year, phased renovation had the Press move into the new facility first, followed by the Gallery and, finally, the Studio Artist Program. 1996 was an exciting year for Atlanta with the Summer Olympics bringing international attention to the city. 1998 marked the 25th anniversary of Nexus, which had established itself as a contemporary arts center of national consequence. Its local presence played a major role in the urban renewal of the historic Marietta Street Artery corridor.
In 2000, Nexus was renamed Atlanta Contemporary Art Center ( The Contemporary), asserting its pride of place in the Southeast and acknowledging a peer relationship to arts venues in other cities. The Contemporary became one of thirty-one organizations selected in 1999 to participate in the multi-year Warhol Initiative, receiving a significant grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to undertake long term institutional planning. Nexus Press closed in 2003, leaving a legacy of over 150 titles produced, each exploring the formal and conceptual possibilities of the book as a work of art. Broadsides, boxed sets, folded sheets, and variously bound books produced at Nexus have been sought by and distributed to collectors, booksellers, galleries, museums, and libraries around the world. Nexus Press books are available for purchase in our SHOP.
Since 2005, The Contemporary has developed original and often-imitated programs including Creative Lives & Careers (previously known as Artist Survival Skills), a series providing information, training, and networking opportunities for artists to develop their creative lives and careers; the 15 Minutes Program, monthly discussions and portfolio reviews for artist members of The Contemporary; Open Studios, an annual event bringing together our studio artists and the general public; Contemporary Talks, a keynote lecture series that connects Atlanta audiences with some of the most consequential thinkers and doers in the world of art and culture; and the Resource Room, a social and educational space featuring books and periodicals focused on contemporary art and visual culture, as well as free Wi-Fi and a community bulletin board for event postings. In 2009, we co-founded the Westside Arts District, featuring monthly third Saturday art walks with educational programming coordinated within the district’s art spaces.