Acknowledging the scourge and pain of the past 15 months, but with a hopeful eye to the future, the theme for this year’s ELEVATE Atlanta Art Festival is Reopen. Reignite. Reconnect. ELEVATE, the name by which the city’s premier annual public art festival is commonly known, will begin Labor Day weekend and end in late October. 

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) launched ELEVATE in October 2011. Initially, OCA staff created the curated, temporary public art program to focus attention on and showcase specific Atlanta communities—using as its creative fuel local artists and neighborhood resources. The goal was to utilize free public art activities and events as driving forces for good—art appreciation, civic responsibility, social justice, economic and cultural vitality, and community pride. 

In the past, ELEVATE staff identified a neighborhood each year and researched its history and cultural resources to see how they could help enliven and enrich the community. They selected a curator, convened interested partners, and galvanized City of Atlanta and other resources.

The result was a 7-10-day event that included performances, temporary and permanent art installations, community dinners, tours and engaging hands-on activities. ELEVATE 2021: Reopen. Reignite. Reconnect. will include much of the same. The principal difference will be its scope and citywide partnerships with cultural organizations and businesses. This year’s ELEVATE will be expanded to include eight sectors of the Atlanta metro area: Southwest and Southeast Atlanta, Old Fourth Ward, Buckhead, the east and westside of Atlanta, Midtown and Downtown.

Beginning with the return of the Atlanta Jazz Festival on Sunday, September 5, and on each weekend through Sunday, October 31, 2021, one Atlanta metro sector will be an ELEVATE focal point. Artist and activist Charmaine Minniefield will serve as curator this year. 

A sign of the times, perhaps, ELEVATE 2021 is expanding and becoming more inclusive and multicultural. And, as is its tradition, ELEVATE is bringing together City of Atlanta and other resources to highlight what makes Atlanta unique – while increasing the city’s cultural and economic vitality.

Fore more about the festival, visit


Camille Russell Love has been executive director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs for more than two decades.

Camille Russell Love

Camille Russell Love has been executive director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs for more than two decades.