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C4 Atlanta
Artist Michael Jones (in hat) unveils his Atlanta mural at C4's downtown FUSE Art Center. It opened in July 2019, was C4’s headquarters and offered coworking spaces and artists' studios. (Courtesy of C4 Atlanta)

C4 Atlanta, a pivotal arts organization for 10 years, has suspended its operations

C4 Atlanta, the arts advocacy nonprofit formed in 2010, announced last week that it has suspended operations.

In a statement published on the C4 Atlanta website, the board of directors said, “COVID-19 and other factors have made continuing impossible at this time. We are diligently working to ensure that the services our stakeholders and members have used the most will continue to be available. We have closed our physical space and will transfer our programming for the remainder of the year.”

At the core of C4 Atlanta’s mission was providing business development services specifically designed to help artists also become entrepreneurs. This included classes on business planning, marketing, website building and fundraising. The organization opened its FUSE Art Center in 2019 in downtown, which included the C4 offices and meeting rooms, coworking spaces and artists’ studios.

C4 Atlanta executive director Jessyca Holland
Executive director and cofounder Jessyca Holland said the pandemic was among the challenges that led to C4 Atlanta’s closing.

Jessyca Holland, who cofounded the nonprofit and was its executive director, said in a statement sent via C4 Atlanta’s newsletter that the year of the pandemic had presented challenges. She said she had always planned to step aside after 10 years to allow a new leader to carry the torch. She had approached the board of directors to devise a succession plan.

“Then, the pandemic,” Holland wrote. “As a team, we decided that a scale-down staff would not be able to support the next executive director. Knowing what we know about (executive directors) who follow a founder, it just didn’t feel right to set someone up for failure.”

She said the pandemic alone was not to blame. “There were other challenges,” she wrote. “I do not want to blame the pandemic entirely. That would be disingenuous. But I am also not in a space to offer much detail because I want to respect people’s right to privacy. It made a difficult year for the arts even more challenging to the point that we broke.”

At the start of the pandemic, C4 Atlanta raised more than $50,000 for artists in need through its Atlanta Artist Lost Gig Fund. In total, according to Holland, the organization put nearly a quarter of a million dollars in the hands of art makers during the pandemic.  

In an interview, Holland said she expects the work of C4 to carry on through other organizations. “There are some amazing organizations, entities and arts collectives that have emerged since our inception,” she said. “I’m not worried about the work C4 did continuing — it just may be under a new banner. And that’s OK. No one owns professional development or advocacy.”

Holland said discussions are ongoing to have partners take over some of C4’s key programs and that she’ll continue to teach professional-development courses for artists. “I am not done,” she said in the newsletter. “I am working on building my next opportunity and I am excited about the future.”

She announced this week on social media the formation of Art Works ATL  Inc., which she describes as a political action committee for arts workers.

Holland said the founding of C4 Atlanta in 2010 grew out of her love of the arts, and in particular how theater helped her get through a difficult adolescence. “C4 Atlanta was a passion project,” she wrote. “The bonds we form in this work together are real. Please don’t let anyone steal your integrity. You are worthy. The world is better for you. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Buckle up. There is more work to do.”