• 77°

YAC still in running for music grant

Music fans took to the Internet to push Oxford into being a top contender for a grant that could bring 10 outdoor concerts to its new pavilion.

Levitt AMP Your City Grant online voting ended Nov. 30 and it cut the field of contenders down to 25 cities, of which 15 will receive funds for the series.

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s bid for the top prize is now being evaluated for venue, ability to present a concert series and community partners, according to YAC’s executive director, Wayne Andrews.

“We are one of 25 in the nation to be considered based on our proposal and public support,” he said. “We appreciate the votes and help spreading the word. There are several factors that come into play when they select the winners, such as nature of the community and the ability for a free concert series to impact the lives of residents.”

Oxford is also up against nearby New Albany and Delta State in Cleveland, which also placed high in voting.

“I think it speaks well that Mississippi is a music state and that our communities support these kinds of programs,” Andrews said, though he is concerned with the nearby competition because a goal of the grant is to build community and connect residents.

“I think the nature of Cleveland and New Albany where a summer concert series might be the major event for them as opposed to Oxford, which has numerous festivals and events, might be a negative,” for Oxford’s chances, he said.

Oxford’s proposal that’s before the Levitt committee shows how the new pavilion, as well as partnerships with the Oxford City Market, Oxford Music Festival and International Folk Festival would offer programming that would “engage, enrich and inspire the community,” Andrews said.

He said some ideas for the series if Oxford receives the grant include a week of international music, folk dance and culture events enhancing the Yokna Folk Festival, or celebrating local musicians by working with Oxford Music Festival coordinators to support a local music festival.

“Grants like the Levitt AMP grant help our organization show the value of a concert series by presenting one,” Andrews said. “Once we offer this series I think it will be a staple of the festivals and events offered in Oxford. We need something in the summer for residents and to draw visitors. We have festivals or major conferences most months of the year and a summer concert series would fill out the year.”

Andrews said YAC will find out if it is a winner on Jan. 5.

Until then, he will continue seeking grants and ways to bring in even more funding to the council, which has supportive donors.

“Grants are one of the key resources the Arts Council pursues to support programs,” he said. “Funding from sources such as Levitt allow us to offer a wider range of programs, organize a higher quality event, and cover a range of cultural options.”