Stealth arts initiative picks up steam

The Atlanta arts community was hit especially hard by the recent recession, with a decline both in fund raising and attendance. But a new, under-the-radar organization with the oddly Soviet-sounding name of the Alliance for Cultural Excellence is giving some arts leaders a sense of renewed optimism, even though nobody seems to know what the alliance's mission is — or if it even has one yet.

"I'm very hesitant to tell anyone what it is or isn't going to be," says alliance founder Frank Green in typically cryptic fashion. "It's really in the concept stages."

What arts leaders do know is that Green, a 30-year-old venture capitalist, has spent the past six months quietly making the rounds of local arts groups, discussing ways in which his neophyte effort could assist them.

"For a long time, the arts and cultural community in Atlanta has felt its message hasn't been heard by the public," says Green, whose early supporters include such heavy-hitters as Lisa Cremin, director of the Metropolitan Arts Fund, and Jan Selman, chairwoman of the Georgia Council for the Arts, who says Green has helped foster an unprecedented level of communication between arts groups.

Green's background likewise inspires confidence: his parents, Holcomb and Nancy Green, endowed the director's position at the High Museum, and his family turns up frequently in the pages of House and Garden and Town and Country.

There is speculation that the alliance could develop into a grant-making organization, an arts advocacy group or even could take on the politically daunting task of creating a special tax district to support the arts in Atlanta.??

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