A major draw in Oxford is the flourishing arts scene, and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council has worked for 42 years to keep the scene alive and growing.
Director Wayne Andrews said the mission of the arts council, named after William Faulkner’s fictional county based on Lafayette County, is to help groups around the region bring their ideas to fruition with funding and support.
“We don’t want to create our own company,” Andrews said. “We want to find people who are passionate about the arts and help them organize, help them structure, help them raise the funds. Then, we can help the next group who is passionate about something because we think there are limitless possibilities for programs in this community.”
Housed in the historic Powerhouse on University Avenue, the arts council works with about 20 arts groups to help produce dozens of events every month, including live theatre, art shows, fundraisers and more.
Theatre Oxford kicks off the season this week with “Harvey,” a fast-paced comedy for the whole family. The show runs 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Powerhouse, and tickets can be purchased at the group’s website.
Andrews said October would be a bustling month for the arts council with a plethora of events scheduled throughout the month, including Theatre Oxford’s 10-minute play festival and many other annual events.
The Cedar Oaks Guild will present the Spirits of Oxford again this Halloween, but this year, the actors will portray a multitude of Faulkner characters.
“Usually, they do historic figures, but this year they’re going to do a more theatrical production,” Andrews said. “It’s kind of fun and playful as if these are real people, because as we know, some of them were based on real people.”
Another crowd-pleasing event, Andrews said, is the council’s annual fundraiser, Three Blind Wines. Set for Oct. 9, the night is a new spin on wine tasting for couples and friends alike.
Teams of two pay $35 for the night and donate three bottles of red wine – two are used for tasting and one is placed in the vault. At the end of the night, the team who brought the wine that received the most votes takes home all the bottles in the vault as a prize.
“Last year, the winner went home with five cases of wine,” Andrews said.
Also in October, Erin Abbott Kirkpatrick of Amelia’s on the Square will present The One Night Stand at the Ole Miss Motel, a juried art show that fills a wing of rooms at the motel with whatever the artist chooses. Andrews said some will vanquish the room of all furniture and work in it as a studio, while some use the bedroom set to enhance their pieces.
The Oxford Arts Crawl, hosted from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every fourth Tuesday of the month through October, is a highlight of the local arts community, touring the Powerhouse gallery, Gallery 130 at Meek Hall, Southside Gallery and University Museum for free.
Later this fall, Hinge Dance Company will return to the Powerhouse with a new fall concert. The modern dance company makes a night of the performances, with cocktails, food and tables, taking the experience from a simple dance show to an evening on the town filled with arts and powerful dances.
“If you haven’t been, they do it in such a fun way that if you’re not a fan of dance, you’re going to have a great time, and if you are a fan, you’re going to say, ‘this is the coolest idea ever,’ ” Andrews said. “It’s a great time. You see that dance can be humorous or athletic or physical or intricate.”
The council is a non-profit organization and survives through membership fees, donations and fundraisers. Thankfully, Cathead Vodka of Madison chose Yoknapatawpha Arts Council as its main charity, and $1 of every purchase is donated to the council.
Luckily, Andrews said funding the organization isn’t as hard as it could be thanks to dedicated residents willing to donate both time and funding to the cause.
“People here want to be involved. You have business leaders who are also up on the stage acting or building sets,” Andrews said. “Oxford is an arts town, and having that capacity breeds people who want more of it. We literally invite people in. We encourage people to bring us their ideas, and we are trying to empower people to put those ideas into action.”
To become a member of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, visit their website or call (662) 234-6429.
Amelia Camurati is associate editor for HottyToddy.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
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