By Hallie Cantlebary – Design & Marketing Chair, North Gwinnett Arts Association
Visitors and locals alike can now be welcomed to the City of Suwanee not by a boring desk with pamphlets and maps, but with a beautiful, art-filled space in Suwanee Town Center.
In a joint venture, the City of Suwanee and North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) have entered into a partnership that allows the NGAA to have much-needed studio and class space in Suwanee Town Center, while also creating and staffing a welcome center for the city. A true living space, half of the 2,297 square-foot facility is dedicated to welcoming visitors with information and the center’s art gallery, while the other half is home to art classes, camps, and workshops for the community. The NGAA Center for the Arts Gallery offers a wide range of exciting works from local and national artists while supporting up and coming artists from area schools.
“Giving back to the community through art education and exposure to the arts is so important and something we are very passionate about,” said Vickie Johnson, co-founder of the NGAA. “We are very lucky to have this partnership and support from the City, enabling us to have a brick and mortar presence where we can interact with visitors and residents through art. The City also is one of the biggest sponsors for our events like Arts in the Park, coming up on May 13th. We couldn’t ask for a more supportive local government.”
The City’s annual contract with NGAA to host the welcome center in the art gallery is funded out of the hotel/motel tax fund, which is intended to go towards such programs. In addition, the Welcome and Arts Center allows the city a presence that extends beyond normal business hours.
“City Hall is closed on weekends and after 5 p.m., which is precisely when a large percentage of visitors are in Town Center. The NGAA Center for the Arts affords us the opportunity to serve as ambassadors to visitors through the Welcome Center while leveraging a collaboration with the NGAA to provide a welcoming presence.” said Marty Allen, Suwanee City Manager.
The Welcome Center and Center for the Arts is located at 3930 Charleston Market Street, in the heart of Suwanee Town Center and just across the street from City Hall.
“Our location can’t be beat” said Dave Phillips, President of the NGAA. “It is but a short walk from any event happening in Suwanee Town Center. If you visit Arts in the Park, the Classic Car Show, a running race, or any event, we hope to get a chance to properly welcome you to our great city.”
“What better way for Suwanee to say ‘welcome!’ than with art?” commented Suwanee’s Assistant City Manager Denise Brinson. “Public art has become such an integral part of Suwanee’s identity. It’s not enough to simply create a place. That place has to come alive – through art, events, activities, and just making things fun. People need a reason to keep coming back and connecting.”
“Arts and cultural activities are at the heart of the Suwanee community. The NGAA Center for the Arts and the City of Suwanee Welcome Center does just that, helping to bring that life to the community.”
The North Gwinnett Arts Association is a non-profit 501(c)(3) art organization supporting artists working in all mediums. The mission of the NGAA is to foster creativity and art education; provide exhibition opportunities to new and established artists; provide programs and activities that educate the public, encourage appreciation of the arts, and serve as a catalyst for small city revitalization via the arts. For more information about the NGAA or art classes, camps, or events, visit www.ngaa4arts.com.