Arts Council committee creates summer events

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council strives to be a community organization.

Creating and building programs based on the input from community members, artists, and community partners. Advice from visual artists resulted in the creation of the Gallery Series, a year-round program of visual art exhibits that encompass the Powerhouse, Ulysses “Coach” Howell Activity Center, City Grocery and Heartbreak Coffee. The program assisted artists in scheduling and planning, creating a longer season of shows that did not cluster around festivals such as Double Decker.

Presenting artists, those who perform or organize events, assisted the Arts Council in creating their equipment loan program. The program provides projectors, screens, sound systems and film equipment to support live performances from festivals, performances, events or film/ live streaming.

Some of the groups using this program include monthly Quasar Literary events, Tunes Around Town, and local filmmakers who are shooting movies. 

Arts events are community experiences: a blend of social and cultural celebrating a sense of place.

Over the past year the Arts Council has been asking community members to assist in crafting events that blend these two elements. One of the largest challenges facing Mississippi is the perception the grass is greener in other communities outside Mississippi. Statistics show Mississippians are leaving the state for communities such as Ashville, Austin and Nashville.

The reason centers around opportunities for both career advancement and an improved quality of life. While Oxford provides a host of cultural experiences with a festival or event every month, the Arts Council launched a committee that had ownership in defining and responding to community ideas. 

Since last July a committee including Shellie Carr, Mary Madeleine Koury, Kelley Hunsberger, Mindy Waldrop, Lo Magee, and Caroline Hourin have been developing ideas and testing events to engage the community.

They have partnered with community groups, engaged Leadership Lafayette, and worked with local businesses. The committee made suggestions on how to reimagine established events, such as the Ornament Auction, and created new ideas to test out.

This group of community members have announced their summer schedule of events.

Townie Takeover: July 16th 

One is never too old for a pub crawl especially when it invites you to explore all the college bars while the students are away. The event features a tour of local college bars with specialty drinks sponsored by Clark Beverage and Diageo.

The event kicks off at The Green at Harrison’s at 4 p.m. where pub crawlers pick up their game cards. Pop-up murals will guide participants on a tour of the Square culminating in a live concert with Rocket 88 and bar-b-que dinner catered by Southern Craft Stove & Tap.

Iron Bartender: August 12th

This popular event returns with regional bartenders taking part in the Iron Bartender challenge. Bartenders have to create a cocktail based on a blind drawing of a mystery spirit–the judges are the public.

Each admission ticket comes with voting tokens encouraging attendees to sip and vote. Contestants have come from Tupelo, Starkville, Clarksdale all to challenge hometown favorites. 

Odd Ball: August 26th

This new event is a side show extravaganza in celebration of the Arts Council’s 50th anniversary. Featuring live music from Hope Clayborn’s Soul Scrimmage and side show performers all under a big top tent built in the Powerhouse.

The committee sought to create an environment where the art experiences would be on the ground interacting with the crowd. Local artist Frank Estrada was commissioned to create a series of limited edition pieces of art in celebration of the Arts Council’s anniversary.

The committee has been working to create monthly experiences that invite the public to connect with the Arts Council and the elements that make the LOU a vibrant place to live. “Once you realize that there are events like Thacker Mountain Radio, Quasar, Oxford Film Festival, professional rodeos, Summer Sunset Concerts, and food truck events. Oxford stacks up to Austin, Nashville or any other city.” Shared committee member Caroline Hourin. “Invitations to these events are found in the free weekly newsletter from the Arts Council – sign up at oxfordarts.com,” added Hourin.