Oxford Arts are surviving and thriving

Published 10:30 am Monday, February 12, 2018

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen Oxford’s arts community out in full force. From Pop Up Oxford, to the Fiber Arts Festival, to Thacker Mountain Radio Hour’s spring kickoff, Oxford Film Festival and the return of Maker’s Market, there’s been an opportunity for all people to get involved.

I’ve had the privilege of covering several of these events and the artists who participate in them. I can genuinely say I am excited about telling their stories because that’s what makes our town remarkable – the people who freely express themselves, and those who celebrate them.

One thing I love about these programs is the way they are designed to make art accessible to others. For example, while interning with Thacker Mountain Radio, I had the opportunity to hear a variety of music and literature from different cultures. Some of the more notable experiences were listening to African fusion, Appalachian Jazz, sci-fi poetry and a rather fascinating 10-minute bird call demonstration.

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While all of these might seem vastly different, the one common thread is that I would never have heard them if I wasn’t watching the program. I had the opportunity to learn about so many styles of music and genres of literature simply by “putting my hands on the radio,” as the theme song says.

Like Thacker, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council sponsors many programs focused on bringing out Oxford’s best artists. More importantly, these programs showcase the inclusivity of the creative community here. Regardless of skill level or preferred medium of expression, there is a place for people to follow their passion if they’re willing to look for it.

As someone who had limited creative opportunities growing up, the idea that one place can hold so many possibilities for self-expression is mind-blowing. What’s even more remarkable are the avenues to share the product of that creativity. Programs like Small Hall, Maker’s Market and others allow people with common interests to congregate and share their work.

On top of all that, the people of Oxford actively attend these events in support of the creative community. The arts groups collaborate and use their platforms to educate others about the importance of the arts, which in turn inspires more people to branch out and discover new methods of self-expression.

Reflecting on all of that reminds me just how fortunate I am (we all are) to be in this little corner of Mississippi. I applaud the arts programs for working as hard as they do to reach people in Lafayette County and beyond. More than that, I applaud the people who participate, whether it’s by creating something of their own or showing up to events for moral support. The best part is, a good majority of the programs are free to the public and welcoming to all people. I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to check out the arts programming in Oxford. It’ll enrich your life and the lives of others.

Anna Gibbs is a reporter at The Oxford EAGLE. You can reach her at anna.gibbs@oxfordeagle.com