When Wayne Andrews took the position of Director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAC) over a decade ago, the YAC put on less than 100 events per year. Now, YAC hosts over 300 events annually across the city of Oxford. Despite having a staff of less than 5 employees, Andrews is passionate about bringing the arts to Oxford and to help aspiring artists in the process.
“We want to get with people that have a passion for art whatever it may be, give them the support they need to get up and running or get a group going,” Andrews said, “and make it grow to the point where it is so successful that we get all kinds of people coming to see them, getting involved in the arts and learning more about what we do here. That is the mission of the Arts Council.”
The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council maintains a regular schedule of events, from monthly art crawls, to the Annual Art-er Limits: Oxford Fringe Festival. The festival is an intense 3-day festival featuring over 80 different performances featured in venues across Oxford. When not putting on a show of some sort, the YAC hosts a variety of art classes, acting workshops and day camps for all ages and mediums.
“In addition to helping the artists today, we want to do our best to promote the arts among the younger crowd, so we’re trying to get them more interested and involved in the Arts Council,” Andrews said. “We already have a great turnout from the University Students, now we want to see more of the younger kids getting interested and involved.”
Behind the scenes of the events featured by YAC is Andrew Douglas. A mechanical engineer, botanist, and accredited chef, Douglas chose to give back to the Oxford community by working full time at the Powerhouse, and “keeping the whole place from falling apart.” as Douglas puts it. Besides keeping the building maintained and in working order, Douglas assists in nearly all Powerhouse events to help performers, troubleshoot equipment and maintain order when visitors to the YAC start having a good time.
“You know, I get to do all kinds of great things here, I get to meet all kinds of great people and see cool things, and it’s just a great time all around,” Douglas said. “That in of itself is my favorite part of the job.”
Before the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council bought, renovated, and moved into the Powerhouse, as its name implies, the building was the City of Oxford’s hydroelectric station. The evidence of this can still be seen with the now painted water turbines sitting in front of the Powerhouse doors. A full list of events can be found online, at oxfordarts.com, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s website.
Morgan Andreiev is senior broadcast major at The Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.