The Goat Farm returns with a historic renovation

The space will quintuple in size but maintains its homegrown arts ethos

190
The Goat Farm quintuples in size but maintains its homegrown arts ethos
Tiffany LaTrice, founder of TILA Studios

Photograph by Lynsey Weatherspoon

When artist Tiffany LaTrice first moved to Atlanta in 2014, she was looking for a creative community to save her from corporate boredom. “I just wanted to paint,” she recalls. Soon, she was setting up her watercolors at the Goat Farm’s Sunday drawing and painting gatherings, where she met the friends and collaborators needed to create an artistic endeavor of her own. “I found other like-minded voices that were struggling with the same things,” she says. “It was very nourishing for me to start my week by pouring into other artists.” When TILA Studios, LaTrice’s collective for Black women artists, was looking for a new studio space in 2019, the historic compound just made sense. She’s one of many artists who found a home at the Goat Farm, which is set to reinvent the arts funding landscape once again, after the first phase of its $250 million renovation was completed in April.

The Goat Farm Arts Center first opened in 2010, taking over a half-collapsed textile turned munitions factory in a weedy postindustrial section of West Midtown. From hosting raucous Scoutmob Halloween parties to providing a setting for shows like The Walking Dead, the Goat Farm was open to more than just artists. As a creative space, it represented a novel concept: art projects funded by real estate. With the rent money supplied by 100 artist studios, plus revenue from a coffee shop, gallery spaces, and performance venues, it could fund generous grants for the dance troupes, chefs, and theater companies that called it home. Then, as so often happens with creative projects, it nearly became a victim of its own success: The wildly popular Goat Farm helped accelerate a frenzy of new businesses in West Midtown, and the resulting property taxes almost drove it out. In response, owner and founder Anthony Harper shut down the main campus in 2019, began operating a handful of satellite studios to give artists a home, and imagined a new future.

The Goat Farm quintuples in size but maintains its homegrown arts ethos
A community workspace designed by Square Feet Studio and Allie Bashuk.

Photograph by Dustin Chambers

The Goat Farm had to find a new model for funding the arts economy through real estate, creating a place where artists could both work and live. “This redevelopment really meant survival for us,” says Harper. “We knew we had to grow, but it was hard to find the right partner—nobody really understood what we meant by real estate funding art, and the scale that it takes.”

Then the team met Lee Walker. Walker had been a devotee of Goat Farm events and understood how the complex fostered Atlanta’s arts scene; he also happened to be the managing partner at TriBridge Residential. The Goat Farm and TriBridge partnered to create an expanded development. In addition to 51 artist studios, phase one of the project now includes 209 apartments, 32 of which are considered workforce housing for people with incomes below the area median. LaTrice has moved into an apartment right above the new location for TILA. “I’ve been living in a quiet residential space for eight years now, but I’ve been lacking community,” she says. “The Goat Farm is ushering in a season of newness, and I want to be a part of that.”

The Goat Farm quintuples in size but maintains its homegrown arts ethos
The Goat Farm blends its historic buildings with new developments.

Photograph by Dustin Chambers

The historic brick buildings will be refurbished in phase two, highlighted by a new restaurant. Three new, modern design additions reflect the Goat Farm’s devotion to the experimental. “We’re future thinkers, so we didn’t want to build new stuff that looks old,” says Allie Bashuk, creative director at the Goat Farm. “The buildings are designed to be a backdrop for artists to create.”

Artists like painter Patrick Eugène are happy to use the new Goat Farm as a canvas. Eugène, who also has a studio there, plans to combine a listening room with a Ghanaian craft brewery, opening in 2026—an installation that could happen only at the Goat Farm.

“It’s like nowhere else, honestly,” he says. “Mixing the old with the new—it’s got this cool, rustic vibe but buzzes with creative energy. It’s become a real community hub where artists of all kinds can come together, share ideas, and just inspire each other.”

The Goat Farm quintuples in size but maintains its homegrown arts ethos
Siteless, a steel mesh and Aqua-Resin sculpture by Sara Santamaria

Photograph by Dustin Chambers

While the new development will include nonartist residents, artists have been and always will be the focal point. Each residential building features studio and performance spaces on the ground level. By creating a sustainable funding source for art, the residential model affirms a central Goat Farm mission: Everyone involved contributes to the arts ecosystem.

In that sense, tenants are also patrons, with a yet-to-be-determined portion of their rent poured back into arts funding. If it works, it will provide a template for keeping art centers like the Goat Farm alive far into the future. “It’s really an experiment to get the rent of institutional-level development to fund art and arts programming in perpetuity,” says Mark Dinatale, the Goat Farm’s director of operations. He has developed programming at the Goat Farm for years and is excited for the next iteration.

And the artists, for their part, are ready. “To come back and see magic was still there made me cry a little because so much of my beginning was in those hallways,” LaTrice says.

“They’ve done a really good job keeping the original vision for the Goat Farm.”

This article appears in our July 2024 issue.

Advertisement