Atlanta’s art scene has been on a steady decline for years, and the artists and vendors are trying to get their way.
But for some of them, a lawsuit is about to go before a federal court that could lead to their businesses being shut down.
Art owners and vendors say the city of Atlanta has taken steps to prevent them from selling their art online and limiting the number of people who can use their spaces.
It has been a long time coming, said the Rev. Fredrick F. Thomas, a pastor and president of the Atlanta Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which represents some of the city’s largest artists and sellers.
Art buyers and sellers say Atlanta has been doing something to stifle the arts and to shut down their businesses for years.
The city has banned the sale of murals, paintings and sculptures, banned the selling of hand-made goods and restricted the sale and distribution of electronic music.
In 2016, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed introduced a resolution requiring that all art in public places be licensed and permitted.
But a lawsuit filed in March by the Georgia-based nonprofit group Artworks Atlanta says the city has not done enough to protect artists’ artworks and that the city is taking a “dumb path.”
The group argues that the resolution has no legal authority.
It asks the court to order the city to stop blocking the sale or distribution of muraldes, hand-painted murals and art pieces.
The lawsuit says the resolution violates the state constitution and the Georgia Consumer Protection Act, and that it has a “vast array of injurious effects” on the economic and social health of Georgia and the city.
Thomas said he has heard complaints from artists and dealers who are worried about losing their business.
They have said they are afraid to take their work to public spaces because of the fear of being blocked by the city, and have even tried to sue the city for violating their First Amendment rights.
The resolution is scheduled to go to the full court on April 25.