YAC strives to provide funding for creatives
Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2022
One role the local arts council plays is to assist creatives in finding resources to support the development of their ideas. In some cases, the Arts Council applies for grants to support programs and services based on needs expressed by local creatives. The Community Supported Artists Program, Big Bad Business Series, and Arts Incubator provide support, mentorship, and stipends to help artists take the next steps in their careers is funded by grants YAC secured from the Mississippi Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts.
YAC recently secured a two-year operating grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission to support and sustain these programs in our community. In addition, MAC awarded two mini-grants to support the professional development of community members to attend training at the National Placemaking Summit in November.
YAC also assists local creatives in finding opportunities that can provide direct support to the artists. YAC assists events in applying for grants. Recently our staff assisted the Grand Fundo Bike Ride, Fiber Arts Festival, Oxford Juneteenth, and Lafayette County Arena in securing funds from Visit Mississippi. Assisted local artists in applying for mini-grants from the Arts Commission. Puffin Foundation of New York and the Les Paul Foundation provided funds to support artists teaching music and photography. SouthArts selected artists Frank Estrada for their Emerging Artist cohort, awarded funding to Lauren Noble for the production of her one-person play “Fury”, and funding to support a free live concert highlighting folk music traditions of the South. We act as a sponsor for artists to produce projects – YAC has managed funds to support projects by Justin Showah of Hill Country Record to preserve Blues Recording from the 1970’s through a grant from Hills Heritage Area, funds from the Mississippi Humanities Council for a public project first-time voters’ experiences.
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YAC looks beyond the grants that fund the arts exploring how efforts by creatives develop new community leaders, foster businesses, and community development opportunities. Learning from our community of creatives who identify services and support YAC has connected local farmers with grants, film makers with funding, emerging non-profits seeking to address issues in our community with resources to grow. Grants, including the Mississippi Arts Commission Operating Funds, only provide a portion of the support. The grants often have limitations. Many of these grants will fund the program but not the space, administrative functions, or capital expenses required to make it all possible.
Mississippi Arts Commission’s last major investment in supporting the building, places, or capital infrastructure to support Arts and Cultural facilities was in 2016. These funds are key to leveraging larger grants which bring investment into our communities. Mississippi has been enriched by the BB King Museum, just as Oxford has been enriched by the Powerhouse. The expense of renting a venue every time Theatre Oxford, Hinge, Oxford Film Festival, and others needed space would reduce the frequency of events. The demand for the Powerhouse is so great that YAC explored and secure a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to enhance the facility. YAC is in the process of securing matching gifts, at the same time it continues to support local artists, fund community events, and assist artists in finding funding for their projects.
YAC strives to balance out our funding by asking community members who value Summer Concert Series or recognize that having staff to support local artists find grants enriches our community. It also has a board and committees which organize events to raise funds to support the Arts Council’s contribution to the community. Next up, Townie Takeover on Saturday, July 16. Working to support local restaurants during the slower summer season this event offers a walking tour with spirits and beer tasting at each stop culminating in a concert by Rocket 88. The event is from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets for this and other events can be found at www.oxfordarts.com.
Wayne Andrews is chairman of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.