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YAC awarded South Arts grant to create shared studio space

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council was recently awarded a $4,750 grant from South Arts, which will be used toward creative placemaking efforts in the LOU community.

YAC is one of only 18 organizations to be selected as part of the $78,000 grant process, out of the nine states South Arts serves. The grants were made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Georgia Council for the Arts, and will support the planning and execution of creative placemaking projects predominantly in small and rural communities in the South.

Wayne Andrews, YAC director, said the funds secured by the council will be used to establish a shared creative space where artists can collaborate and use their talents to the fullest.

“We’re testing out the idea of having a shared space for creative people,” Andrews said. “So we’re going to use that grant money to see how that works, figure out a budget and celebrate some of our artists by supporting them with an artist’s residency and studio space.”

The project will be part of YAC’s partnership with the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Foundation. The goal of that partnership, Andrews said, is to grow small businesses and provide a way for creative people in the LOU community to stay there.

While it’s still in the early stages of development, the yet-to-be-named project will be located at a separate location from the arts council’s main office at the Powerhouse.

“If we get a creative space in another retail or business area, this type of activity will draw more people to that site where multiple people are collaborating and working,” Andrews said. “It might even encourage collaboration with other businesses in the area as well. Having a really unique business will increase foot traffic and in turn, will help other businesses and energize parts of the town.”

The grants, which must be matched by the recipient organizations, represent South Arts’ first programmatic offering in the arena of creative placemaking, following up on its successful co-sponsorship of the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit in March 2018 in Chattanooga, TN.

YAC’s goal of establishing a creative space that can be incorporated into the fabric of the community is right in line with South Arts’ intentions for the grant, according to Susie Surkamer, its executive director.

“Creative placemaking uses arts and culture to activate and animate communities,”Surkamer said. “Supporting these creative placemaking efforts – from a small-business incubator for creative entrepreneurs to public art projects embracing civic pride and even a project using the arts to promote healthy eating and locally-grown produce – is an important step in serving the cross-sector needs of our region through the arts.”