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Yoknapatawpha Arts Council Ready to Expand for the Future Ahead

For the past 40 years the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council brought soul to Oxford by helping numerous local artists share their creativity with all, be it painting, singing or pure talent.

Over the years, the arts council at the Powerhouse brought a liveliness to the city. Wayne Andrews, the director of the arts council, has worked tirelessly to uphold the council’s activities. He is ready for the next step, a bigger future.

YAC is launching a new effort with its Community Building Campaign.

The Arts Council has created a different type of sponsorship program. Instead of asking for a donation to support one event at a time, YAC has the goal of finding 10 donors whose gift will be used all year long.

“YAC plans its programs two years out,” said Andrews. “If we could find 10 partners to help us focus long range by committing to a year of support our efforts and those of our volunteers would be centered on the quality and diversity of the programs. We have been fortunate to have the Arts Commission, Lafayette County, City of Oxford, Cathead, Blake Tartt III and our members as our core of support. These six groups of donors have made all the Arts Council’s programs possible. Imagine what could be accomplished if we could add two, four or 10 more donors who help us think long term.”

Andrews said, “We are looking for 10 donors who can contribute $5,000 each. Our budget will increase 10 percent from $470,000, and there is so much we can do then. This investment will not only support our 320 days of programs but help us plan for our growth. We are challenging ourselves to bring in new artists and create more events.”

A student art showing at the Powerhouse
A student art showing at the Powerhouse

YAC is at the stage where it will need help to take the next step. Leadership support along with the investment can help the council have the resources to build and expand its current programs.

Andrews said these donors could challenge them, and he cited Blake Tartt III as an example.

“Blake Tartt has been generous, and with his donations he challenges us to bring more people to Oxford so they could see how great this place is,” said Andrews.

Cathead Vodka is another donor who has helped the council greatly. It was the first major donor for the arts council. It donates $1 for every bottle it sells.

He is grateful for the help he has had from the donors in the years past from the public domains to families to individuals and businesses. to him and YAC, they have all been instrumental in the YAC’s ability to host large, creative events for many to enjoy.

The Artomaton, an idea from YAC's Art Incubator, is a vending machine featuring goodies from local artists. It can be found all over Oxford.
The Artomaton, an idea from YAC’s Art Incubator, is a vending machine featuring goodies from local artists. It can be found all over Oxford.

“YAC went from having the Powerhouse with not much going on to plenty of events every year. I feel very fortunate,” said Andrews.

It can be argued that the YAC and the Powerhouse have been one of the vibrant parts of Oxford by hosting plentiful events.

On the last Tuesday of each month from January to October, Oxonians and university students alike piled onto the Double Decker bus to see art through the city.

Miss-I-Sippin' is a delicious culinary event featuring beer at the Powerhouse.
Miss-I-Sippin’ is a delicious culinary event featuring beer at the Powerhouse.

In fall, the community enjoyed each other’s company at the Three Blind Wines as each person votes for their favorite wine out of the collection consisting of three bottles brought by each attendee. Labels don’t factor into the voting because they’re covered before the tasting. In winter, the Oxonians came together for the Christmas glow of the Ornament Auction, one of the biggest holiday parties in the city.

Oxford has enjoyed these four festivals that YAC made possible: the Fringe festival, a multi-day art sampler festival featuring regional work; the Fiber Arts Festival, the oldest fiber-related festival in Mississippi; the Oxford Film Festival, named one of top 50 festivals by Movie Maker Magazine; and Miss-I-Sippin’ that has sold out for four years in a row and will expand into a two-day culinary festival of beer and Southern foods.

A recital from one of numerous student dance classes made possible by YAC.
A recital from one of numerous student dance classes made possible by YAC.

The YAC has also provided local artists with Arts Incubator where writers, painters and filmmakers and performers connected with business mentors to help them launch businesses. Oxfilm is also another organization by YAC that connects regional filmmakers to the industry. YAC has also provided community grants to artists in support for new endeavors. YAC also provided a creative outlet for all residents in Oxford in its Art Angels and Art for Everyone programs.

To learn more about the arts council, visit oxfordarts.com.

Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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