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Atlanta as a Cultural Center

In the days of its ante-bellum greatness, Atlanta was a cultural centre with big aspirations. The Fox Theatre glitters with its former pretensions but the New American Shakespeare Tavern is more likely to strike a chord with homesick Europeans. The major cultural venue is the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree Street (tel: (404) 733 5000). This glass and stone modern architectural showpiece was erected by the then head of Coca-Cola, Donald Woodruff, as a non-profit-making service to the community. It commemorates a 1962 plane crash at Orly, Paris, which killed 106 Atlanta citizens and one of the buildings is still known as the Memorial Arts Building. The Center, now spread around a campus, hosts a continuing series of cultural events and is home to the High Museum of Art (see Key Attractions). It also contains three theatres, exhibition galleries and is home to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Alliance Theatre Company, the 14th Street Playhouse, as well as children’s and Afro-American groups. The Center For Puppetry Arts (see Key Attractions) is only a few blocks away.

There is a website ( that lists the latest events information. Ticketmaster (tel: (404) 249 6400; website: is the agency for immediate bookings.

Music: The celebrated Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was founded in the 1940s but only became full time in 1968. Fame struck when they played at President Carter’s inaugural concert; they now record with Telearc and have toured Europe and the Americas extensively. The programmes they offer tend to be safe and unadventurous classical-pop, with at least one distinctly non-classical concert each month. The orchestra performs either at the Atlanta Symphony Hall (tel: (404) 733 4536), at the Woodruff Arts Center (tel: (404) 733 5000), or at the Chastain Park Ampitheatre, 135 West Wieuca Road (tel: (404) 872 1115).

Theatre: The Art Deco Islamic extravaganza Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree Street (tel: (404) 881 2100; website: known as the ‘fabulous Fox’ - is a National Historic Landmark and an attraction in its own right, with a star-studded foyer, fantastic balconies and exotic gilding. It is also home to the Atlanta Opera and stages ballet, concerts and Broadway productions of hit musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera. The Alliance Theater Company performs modern American drama with an occasional European piece at the Woodruff Arts Center. The NewAmerican Shakespeare Tavern pays homage to the Bard with a Globe-like theatre experience at 499 Peachtree Street. Lastly, the Theatre in the Square (tel: (770) 422 8369), 11 Whitlock Avenue, in Marietta, is housed in an old cotton warehouse and produces plays that reflect local history and feature local writers. It is only 20 minutes’ drive from Atlanta and worth a visit.

Dance: The Atlanta Ballet (tel: (404) 817 8700), the oldest continuously operating ballet company in the USA, performs during autumn, winter and spring. Performances are held at the Fox Theatre (see Theatre above) and the Robert Ferst Center for The Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology, 349 Ferst Drive NW (tel: (404) 894 2787).

Film: Multi-screen movie houses cater to the American film-going public. They all screen Hollywood releases and the international distributors’ list. The 1920s Fox Theatre hosts the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival with both classic and contemporary hits on the biggest screen in town. The Arabian palace decor and fantasy lighting adds to the enjoyment and the restored organ provides an introduction to the show. The film programme offered by the Woodruff Arts Center includes a remarkable range of foreign films and the Goethe-Institute, Colony Square (tel: (404) 892 2388), shows German films every Wednesday evening in their auditorium.

Cultural events: The former Mayor of Atlanta, Bill Campbell, encouraged two music festivals of note. For a week at the end of August, during the Montreux Atlanta Music Festival, a medley of music to appeal to all tastes fills Atlanta’s parks and open spaces. Principal venues are the Centennial Olympic Park and Piedmont Park; admission is free. The Atlanta Jazz Festival, running for ten days in May, aims to be a little more upmarket, attracting some of the biggest names in jazz. The programme plays in venues all around the city.

The Georgia Shakespeare Festival (tel: (404) 264 0020; website: is held in the landscaped grounds of Oglethorpe University during July and August. The audience can enjoy a picnic on the grass prior to the performance.

Literary Notes
Margaret Mitchell, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece about the antebellum and post civil war South, Gone With The Wind (1936), is the city's favourite literary child. The book has sold more hardcover copies in the USA than any book but the Bible. Tom Wolfe recently moved decidedly upmarket and set A Man in Full (1998) among the rich and powerful bankers and real-estate magnates of the suburb of Buckhead in Atlanta. More lightheartedly, The Cat Who Robbed A Bank, a mystery by Lillian Jackson Braun, stars a wealthy Atlanta auction buyer.

In the non-fiction arena, the Southern Architecture Foundation has published the Architecture of James Means, designer of some of the local stately homes.

Useful Atlanta Links and Resources

Cultural Links

Atlanta Ballet -
It is the highest standard of artistry and vision. The South's premier ballet company brings you a dynamic season you will remember for years to come.

Atlanta Symphony -
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra - living music

Alliance Theatre -
The Alliance. Real. Live. Theatre.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens -
Explore an urban garden. Expand your horizons. Expect the unexpected. Exult in the discovery.

Fernbank Science Center - http://fsc.fernbank.udu
From the Forest to the Stars

Georgia World Congress Center -
We're the Georgia World Congress Center. Where you're always on our mind.>

High Museum of Art -
The High Museum of Art is the leading art museum in the Southeastern United States. The Museum has two locations: the Meier-designed main facility is in Atlanta's Midtown arts and business district, and the High Museum of Art Folk Art and Photography Galleries are downtown in the Georgia-Pacific Center.

Atlanta History Center -
Come, learn about Georgia. Get Involved!

Atlanta Opera -
Performances are at The Fox Theatre, which is independently owned and operated. Located at 660 Peachtree Street (at the intersection of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Peachtree), the Fox is easily accessible by car or via public transportation.

Sci Trek -
Experience Georgia's Technology Adventure Today!

Cyclorama and Civil War Museum -
Take Your Place in History

Zoo Atlanta -
See gorillas, orangutans, tigers, lions, giraffes, elephants, birds & more in natural habitats.

Stone Mountain Park -
Storytellers of the South

Phillips Arena -
Phillips Arena - Live Just Got Better

Entertainment Links

White Water Park -
Six Flags - White Water - Atlanta. Six Flags, Inc. is the world's largest regional theme park company.

Six Flags Over Georgia - http://www.sixflags/parks/overgeorgia/
Six Flags Over Georgia, is the way we say fun around these parts!

Sporting Links

Atlanta Braves Baseball -
Offical Site of the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Hawks Basketball -
Offical Site of the Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Falcons Football -
The NFL Internet Network

Atlanta Thrashers Hockey -
Offical Site of the Atlanta Thrashers

Misc. Links

Altavista -
Top search engine and directory resource.

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