I first heard of the Goat Farm during our recent Super Bowl when it hosted a number of music acts to help entertain some of the thousands of people that flooded our city. I thought it was just a quirky name for a music venue. Then today I read an article about its “$250 million renovation” and I was forced to look again.
It turns out this is an arts center housed in a number of industrial buildings from the 1880s in West Midtown. It has studio space for over 300 artists and hosts music concerts, traditional and experimental theatrical performances, film screenings, contemporary dance performances, art exhibitions, art residency programs and professional ballet and contemporary dance classes. Basically, The Goat Farm helps to cultivate artists as well as showcase their talents. But get this: it operates without public funding, donations or grants. It is a for-profit venture. Cultivation of artists and for-profit don’t typically go together like that.
According to an article in Atlanta Magazine, the place was updated to rent out studio and event space. And when owners Anthony Harper and Chris Melhouse started seeing profits roll in from the facility, they used much of those funds to offer grants to local arts groups and to support ongoing projects within the facility. The internal investment in the projects and people at The Goat Farm led to a huge buzz that fueled a 500-person waiting list for studio space. The demand allowed the owners to take the money they were spending on marketing the facility and turn it into more grants to support the arts.
I was fortunate last Friday to be able to attend a men’s group event at my church where Catholic author and speaker Allen Hunt talked to us about the law of the harvest — that you reap what you sow. “If you give of yourself love to others, then you will be surrounded with love. If you want to be surrounded with hate, go out on social media-Facebook, Snapchat and all of that, and put out hate. You’ll see it all come back.”
Hunt was talking about more of a spiritual and personal journey. But to me, it’s like when you buy a new kind of car, then you start seeing that same car everywhere. I came from Hunt’s speech and started reading about The Goat Farm. By investing a large portion of the profits into the success of its “customers,” The Goat Farm grew in its own success. It’s reaping what it sowed.
Now, because of its success, The Goat Farm released plans for a $250 million-redevelopment that will include a new home for the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, a 125-room independent hotel, 80,000 square feet of artist work spaces, new restaurants, an office building for digital agency Edgar Allan, and “a host of artist-in-residence programs,” according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The redevelopment will also include “affordable” apartments so The Goat Farm’s artists can live as well as work there, according to Atlanta Magazine. Based on projections, Goat Farm officials say they are aiming to double the amount of art grants it awards to between 40 and 60 grants totaling $500,000 a year.
The Goat Farm got its name because it is indeed next to a field where goats wander about. But it is farming an artists’ community to be sure. And all around it, small, new developments and businesses are sprouting up and feeding off of its success.
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
Geoff Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
770-674-1433, Personal: NMLS#104587
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group