An Artful Place Hosting More Than Meets the Eye

Tucked away on a side street in Suwanee’s Town Center is an unassuming space with a cheerful blue awning and a turquoise café table and chairs, harkening the bright, colorful interior that awaits.

The City of Suwanee and North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) partnered in 2017 to create a joint welcome and arts center, allowing the NGAA to have much-needed studio and class space in Suwanee Town Center, while also providing the city with a staffed welcome center. Visitors and locals are welcomed to Suwanee with a high-energy, beautiful, art-filled space.

“The joint welcome and arts center allows the city to have a presence that extends beyond normal business hours,” said Marty Allen, Suwanee City Manager. “City Hall is closed on weekends and after 5 pm, which is when a large percentage of our visitors are in Town Center. Collaboration with the NGAA allows us to have a welcoming presence when Town Center is at its busiest.”

Located at 3930 Charleston Market Street, half of the 2,300 square-foot facility is dedicated to welcoming visitors with information, Suwanee swag and an art gallery, while the other half hosts art classes, camps and workshops for the community.

The NGAA is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the appreciation of local art through exhibition, festivals and other media. Based in Suwanee, the association maintains an open membership policy where artists of all types are welcome to be a part of the organization.

The city’s annual contract with NGAA to host the welcome center in the art gallery is funded out of the hotel/motel tax fund, which is intended to go towards such programs. The unique partnership won a 2018 Georgia Downtown Development Award.

“What better way for Suwanee to say ‘Welcome!’ than with art?” commented Suwanee’s Assistant City Manager Denise Brinson. “Public art has become an integral part of Suwanee’s identity. It’s not enough to simply create a place. That place has to come alive – through art, events, activities and just making things fun. People need a reason to keep coming back and connecting.”

“Arts and cultural activities are at the heart of Suwanee. The NGAA Center for the Arts and the City of Suwanee Welcome Center does just that, helping to bring that energy to the community.”