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New venue to benefit local artists

In an effort to provide space for local artists, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council is looking to rent a building to help meet their needs and help grow their art businesses.

The arts council is in discussions with the owner of a building on Skyline Drive, off Highway 30.

According to Wayne Andrews, director of the Powerhouse, the arts council is hoping to eventually expand the Powerhouse, but that will require more funds than the council has at the moment.

“As we were trying to raise that money, we realized it may take longer than we planned,” Andrews said. “We looked for an alternative idea.”

The arts council recently received a $24,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to expand its arts incubator program.

“We’re trying to foster small businesses in the arts,” Andrews said. “That means film, art markets, and artists who teach, like Andi Bedsworth, who does Art to Go.”

Recognizing there isn’t a lot of affordable spaces for local artists to set up a studio, the arts council found the building through the help of the Oxford and Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce.

However, before the arts council can commit to leasing the building from owner Michele McKay, Andrews said they need a commitment from at least 10 artists interested in leasing space. The price will be determined on how big of a space an artist needs.

“There will be a shared area and also options for private studios,” Andrews said.

The grant will help subsidize the artists rent, keeping the price for artists as low as possible.

“The best part is there is classroom space,” Andrews said. “So artists can hold classes and use that revenue to offset their rent.”

McKay said she’s excited about working with the arts council and feels the art council will provide a great use of the building that’s about 3,600-square feet in size.

“I feel like it would be important to offer new and existing artists a space to grow their business in an economic and affordable way,” McKay said. “It’s just like the business incubators on Highway 7 and on the Ole Miss campus — we’re helping them get started.”

Andrews said the building would be ready shortly after the lease is signed as there are little alterations needed, other than needing some additional ventilation for artists, putting in some sinks and appropriate flooring.

“Sooner we get the people, the sooner it can all happen,” Andrews said.

To make an appointment to see the proposed art space, call the Powerhouse at 662-236- 6429 or email yacdirector@gmail.com.

Stephanie Rebman contributed to this story.