The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council is known for hosting many events, supporting local arts organizations and providing spaces for artists and the next few weeks are no exception.
Over the past several years the Arts Council has focused on how to sustain Lafayette County’s creative community. The rich history of writers, musicians, painters, and culinary stars is something that the nature of our community has cultivated.
The University of Mississippi has attracted artists both as students and instructors, community leaders have welcomed the arts into public spaces, and community members’ attendance at culinary events to plays support these activities.
The Board and the Staff of the Arts Council invest time into learning how our community became a haven for creatives and how to sustain that environment. Staff members have been attending the Creative Placemaking Forum which explores innovative and effective approaches to help communities thrive through local arts and cultural ecosystems.
The focus of the arts council is not on how to teach musicians, dancers, or painters to be better artists. The focus is on how to create tools, resources and opportunities that make our community a place that offers economic, cultural, and creative growth.
Community members, and visitors, recognize that a singular experience does not define our community. As part of the Arts Council’s strategy to connect creatives, it offers three unique opportunities.
Night of Genius
Pitch decks, venture capital, and startup funding all seem intimidating if you just have a great idea but are not sure what to do next. Delving into a Google search of how to start a business might overwhelm you. The Arts Council and the Chamber of Commerce organize an annual Night of Genius. Take away writing a business plan, presentations, or pitch decks. What if you could just share your great idea with an audience of experts who could connect you with the local resources to make your idea possible?
The event was designed for those who might already be in business and trying to find that next step or those who have a great idea but don’t know how to start. The public is invited to share their great idea, sit in the audience to listen, or bring their skills to offer advice. The goal is to let community members share their ideas and find a connection that might help launch a new business in Lafayette County. It could be anything: A commercial kitchen for local caterers to rent, an online tutoring service, or how to take an artist’s work to launch a board game.
This free event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 13 at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center. Come to hear, share and talk about the next great idea in Lafayette County.
Community Supported Artists (Deadline Sept 30th)
Artists, which the Arts Council has a wide definition of, sometimes need assistance in translating their creative energy into a business model. The Community Supported Artist program offers artists financial stipends, mentorship, and marketing support to grow. The project has assisted artists in securing equipment that allows them to produce higher quality work, reimagine their business to create new revenue opportunities, or raise those startup funds to launch their great idea.
Projects that have come out of the Community Supported Art program include Talitha Kumi Jewelry made in Oxford which will be featured in Paris Fashion Week, Southern Bird Studios which turned artist Catherine Smith’s original watercolors into gift items which can now be found in 300 stores in 47 states, and Justevia Teas.
Gallery Series: (Deadline Sept 30th)
Artists are skilled at creating. One of the hardest challenges is connecting with galleries, public spaces, and opportunities to exhibit. Artists who exhibit at events like the Double Decker have to manage to submit applications to dozens of similar festivals, packing up their work, traveling a festival circuit, spending money in the hopes of selling art, and all while trying to produce work. The Arts Council working with local restaurants, the Oxford Park Commission, and utilizing spaces it manages created year-round exhibit opportunities. One application offers 26 different exhibit opportunities.
By streamlining the process so the artist could plan their year and offering an exhibit opportunity that did not come with an application fee YAC hopes to support existing artists and provide opportunities for new artists. The gallery series is open to any artists of any type, style, or medium featuring a range of shows from themed shows. These allow artists with a limited body of work to gain exposure to featured exhibits highlighting one artist or small group of artists.
All of these programs are open to the entire community. Guidelines to sign up, participate and submit can be found online at oxfordarts.com or visit the Powerhouse Community Arts Center on University Avenue.
Courtesy of YAC