Chris Appleton

Executive Director, WonderRoot

This native Atlantan is passionate about supporting arts that support the community. Find out how an idea among three friends became a powerhouse cause that’s bringing more art to Atlanta.

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The Arts Advocate

Atlanta is a city of social innovators and area natives like Chris Appleton who are doing some of the most leading-edge work. Chris has experienced firsthand all the city has to offer – and has dreamt of ways to improve it.

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When Appleton and two friends first imagined WonderRoot in 2002, it was an idea about ways to use art and culture to build a better Atlanta. Now the arts-focused nonprofit is in a growth phase, kicking off the revitalization of a 60,000-square foot former elementary school into a cultural center.

“I think a lot of young people are trying to figure out how to build a better world, and the place to start is in your local community,” says Appleton. “Atlanta was really a ripe place for us to do that work and has embraced the ideas and values and effort that have been a part of our work since the very beginning.”

When the new WonderRoot Center for Arts and Social Change opens in the Reynoldstown neighborhood of Atlanta, it and its eight acres of surrounding land will feature event venues, a restaurant, and studio and collaboration spaces.

Adjacent to the city’s BeltLine and ensuing urban resurgence, the space will be a cultural highlight for the historic neighborhood.
“Atlanta over the last several years has really seen a cultural resurgence for the city’s arts organizations, and food, and just generally the investment in the city’s urban core,” Appleton says. “Part of the reason…is lifting up, by the larger institutions, of smaller organizations.”

That spirit of collaboration and progress is what keeps Appleton close to his roots, he says.

“As an Atlanta native, I choose to stay in Atlanta because I’m interested in a city that embraces diversity, that embraces progressive growth and change, and that is certainly something that I’m seeing in Atlanta in 2015.” 

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Founded in 2004, WonderRoot provides facilities for Atlanta artists and coordinates arts-based community service programs.
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