May 29, 2024 - News

Atlanta arts czar announces retirement

A woman smiles and stands at a transparent lectern with a City of Atlanta official seal

Camille Russell Love is the outgoing Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs executive director. Photo: Courtesy of City of Atlanta

Camille Russell Love, one of the Atlanta arts scene's most influential forces for more than 25 years, is retiring from her City Hall post.

Why it matters: As executive director of the city's Office of Cultural Affairs, Love guided Atlanta's cultural programming through the post-1996 Summer Olympics boom, the Great Recession and the city proper's resurgence.

Zoom in: In 1998, the former corporate executive turned arts consultant and gallery owner joined Mayor Bill Campbell's administration to lead the office that oversees the city's grants and contracts with artists, nonprofits and community groups.

  • The office also manages programming for Gallery 72, the Chastain Arts Center, Downtown's annual Elevate and the Atlanta Jazz Festival, one of the country's biggest free jazz festivals.

What they're saying: Love's exit and the subsequent loss of institutional knowledge would leave a "sizable" hole in the city's arts scene, Brandon Sheats, the executive director of arts journal Burnaway, told Axios.

Yes, but: Despite the city's reputation for music, movies and creative pursuits, public funding for the artists and organizations that create those works trails compared to other major metros and states.

  • "Camille had one of the best and worst jobs you could have in city government: trying to convince council members and mayors to put arts funding in the budget," Sheats said. "At the same time knowing we're in a state that doesn't give money to the arts."

What's next: The Mayor Andre Dickens administration said a national search is under way to find Love's successor. Love will take an emeritus role as a cultural affairs advisor to the mayor.

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