Celebrating 50 years of art in LOU

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2022

This weekend the annual Summer Sunset Series kicked off more than the summer season of community events. The first show of the season started anniversary celebrations for Thacker Mountain Radio and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. Thacker will mark 25 years of a live radio show being broadcast from Oxford and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council will celebrate 50 years of community arts programming.

These two organizations enhance our community.  While having a free live weekly radio show that features nationally recognized authors and talented musicians is an obvious benefit to those who reside in our community.  The show is broadcast across three states, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, offering a weekly highlight of Oxford to the Southeast. A small sample of our community with folks applauding literature, music, and live entertainment with an energy that draws visitors seeking to share in the experience.  Thacker is such a distinct experience that other communities hire the show to come to their communities.

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council was started by artists seeking to ensure the arts had a place in Oxford and Lafayette County.  Working with City and County leaders the Arts Council organized live performances on the Square, Art Markets, and the Sunset Series.  In the early days artists and community members opened their homes. Churches and Businesses provided performance spaces. YAC provided grants to support community arts projects.  The opportunity to manage a community facility, The Powerhouse, provided a focal point for arts.  YAC provides the tools, resources, and equipment to support community arts organizations.  The addition of the Old Armory Pavilion and Lafayette County Arena as community spaces offers the Arts Council the ability to offer more diverse programs.  This summer alone YAC, working with artists, will coordinate 28 different summer classes from art, theatre, and puppet camps for kids to basket weaving, painting, and culinary classes for adults. 

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YAC is preparing for the next 50 years of service to the community. Last year the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a challenge grant to YAC providing support to expand the Powerhouse.  This expansion would increase community spaces, offer a maker’s space and studios for artists, creating a Hub connecting creative voices directly to community members. The Arts Council has been working with City leaders, State agencies, and community members to raise the funds to match the challenge grant. 

YAC’s celebration of 50 years of service will be a renewed effort to provide community spaces that place the artist as a cornerstone in the community.  What Thacker and the Arts Council provide to our communities is only possible because of support from the community.  Local Businesses who have donated, become sponsors or offered items for auctions to raise funds.  Community members who have served on boards volunteered, or become members provide a small annual vote of support.

Thacker and the Arts Council look forward to sharing our work with you.  Drawing visitors to the Community. Supporting the work of creatives making the LOU a place in which everyone wants to live.

Learn more about upcoming performances, programs, how to become a member, or how your business can be part of these programs at www.oxfordarts.com or www.thackermountain.com


Wayne Andrews is the executive director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.