ArtWorks! Gwinnett was developed between 2007 and 2010 by community leaders from the “Strength in Arts” quality of life committee of Partnership Gwinnett, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s economic development initiative. Input from business, arts, and government (schools, libraries, community services, parks and recreation, county planning, etc.) sector representatives along with commissioned research (public surveys and arts groups’ questionnaires and census) underscored the need for support and visibility for the arts in Gwinnett County. Recognizing the need for Gwinnett’s arts community to become competitive with peer counties (Fulton and Cobb spend $1 million and up annually on the arts) and to improve education and quality of life, ArtWorks! Gwinnett was formally established in 2010. ArtWorks! is Gwinnett’s unifying arts “umbrella” organization, consortium and information clearinghouse. The arts council consists of a five-member Board of Directors and a nineteen-member community board (named the “Board of Doers”) made up of arts, corporate, and public sector representatives. The organization’s non-profit, tax-exempt status was effective in October of 2010.
In June 2011, ArtWorks! launched operations and programming with the hiring of its first executive director, and began to promote the arts and offer professional development and recognition programs. The formal launch of programming began with the Gwinnett Arts Forum,held in September of 2011.
The initial years have been highlighted by successful programs and events. The annual school awards program for K-12 students has recognized almost 200 students from 100 schools. The community recognition program, “Fusion” (a celebration of the County’s diverse cultural offerings), held for three consecutive years, has recognized 133 community members and organizations in front of over 700 people.
Community response to ArtWorks! has been strong. After the first year of operations, ArtWorks! received a Gwinnie Award from the Hudgens Center for the Arts and a Lively Award from Live Arts Theater for efforts in bringing the arts to the community. In the fall of 2012, our inaugural executive director left the organization, and ArtWorks! was run by an interim executive director for eight months. Since August of 2013, Raye Varney has been Executive Director.