By Alyssa Schnugg
The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council will introduce a new program this fall aimed at giving small art-based businesses a chance to grow — and is also looking for just the right person to kick it off.
The Big Bad Business Lab idea came to fruition out of the Arts Incubator and Big Bad Business Series of workshops that were held in partnership with the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce.
A nine-month program, The Lab is designed to give “creatives” — whether in digital, fine or folk arts-based small businesses — an opportunity to grow a body of work, and their small business. The new initiative is funded through an “Our Town Grant,” from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“The National Endowment for the Arts has seen the value of North Mississippi artists and how vital they are to the economic and cultural capital of our community,” said YAC director Wayne Andrews. “We’re excited to offer additional professional development support to creatives so they can remain in North Mississippi, rather than moving away to a Nashville or Austin.”
YAC is also taking applications from those interested in running the new program as Creative in Residence.
The Creative in Residence will be a part-time position and as a peer leader, he or she will be able to work on the further development of their own small business. It will also include a stipend. The pilot program will last two years, with two cohorts of four to six creative economy entrepreneurs and artists.
“The new Creative in Residence will be a peer leader, identifying participant needs and connecting creatives with local small business resources,” said Meghan Gallagher, outreach and education coordinator for YAC.
The Arts Incubator started in 2009 and went from quarterly to monthly workshops with NEA funding.
“We want to see opportunities for artists, who are entrepreneurs, continue to grow their businesses and offer unique artwork and experiences that shape who we are in Oxford, Lafayette County and beyond,” Andrews said. “The Lab is also a way for residents and visitors to connect with talented artists who offer an array of services.”
The Creative in Residence will encourage members of the cohort to interact with the public, as local pandemic regulations permit, attend Big Bad Business Series workshops and take advantage of other local small business resources.
“The Lab will showcase all the small business resources and collaboration that’s possible in our community, and the Creative in Residence its champion,” Andrews said.
To learn more about the program or apply for the Creative in Residence position, visit oxfordarts.com.