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Oxford’s art community providing escape with “Stay @ Home Fest”

This week was supposed to be one of the biggest on Oxford’s art community’s calendar, but COVID-19 pulled the plug.

On Wednesday, the 17th Annual Oxford Film Fest was scheduled to begin, but was postponed last week due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Other events from the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council were also scheduled every day, but now the town has gone dark.

With everyone self-quarantining out of precaution and staying at home, YAC is providing an escape and another entertainment alternative if for those who might have binged all the shows they can binge at the moment.

Dubbed the “Stay @ Home Fest,” YAC executive director Wayne Andrews is working with local artists to provide programs where people can pull up their laptop or mobile device and enjoy with some social distancing.

“The stay at home fest is hoping to do two things,” Andrews said. “One, a lot of these artists lost gigs that were booked and these were things they were going to pay their bills or utilities with. … So, we’re focusing on making sure these people that have basically lost work, that we can try and do something to help. We’re, at the same time, trying to provide a sense of community and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have content.'”

The Stay @ Home Fest will hire local artists to share online concerts, art exhibits, live streamed shows, talks with artists and premieres. These events will highlight talent and offer everyone the chance to enjoy the creative voices of the Oxford community.

The events will begin on Friday with the Oxford Film Festival premiering their community film “The Golden Years” digitally through their Facebook page and other social media platforms at 6 p.m.

On Saturday, Joe Austin & The Tallahatchies will hold a “Small Hall” performance through YAC’s Facebook page 7 p.m. Other events scheduled include a mini concert by Silas Reed at 7 p.m. on Monday and a live stream of a performance of the play “Birding Body” on Friday at 7 p.m. and Andrews is working to schedule more events.

“They can’t stop their tour, so they have to go to the next stop,” Andrews said. “So, they’ve agreed to perform their play. You’ll be able to see live play that is performed here and participate.”

Many of the scheduled concerts and events will take place at The Powerhouse and streamed.

There will be a live tipping option during each performance but are also still taking donations for their J.E. Pitts Artist Fund to help hire local artists for the festival. YAC established the J.E. Pitts artist fund 10 years ago to support the work of artists in the community by providing funds to create, produce works and to launch businesses. Funds from this grant have helped local artists create new works, perform at national music events, buy supplies and launch new events that enrich our community.

Anyone who donates will receive a piece of art from Pitt’s collection. To donate, visit oxfordarts.com.

On March 30, an online battle of the bands will begin to help select bands for the Missihippi Music and Arts Festival in August. For any bands interested in competing, visit the festival’s Facebook page.

To see the full schedule and to keep up with any new events added as they are announced, visit oxfordarts.com.