Arts in April

Posted on Apr 2 2014 - 7:01am by Quinton Smith

April is a big month for the arts in Oxford, with Double Decker drawing thousands to the city to spend both time and money.

A summer 2013 reporting by The Oxford Eagle indicated about $27,000 of tourism revenue was generated last April in collections of hotel taxes, and the amount is expected to increase.

Wayne Andrews, executive director of The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, said he believes the arts are vital to the economy and tourism in Oxford.

“If you want to look at towns that grow, towns that have low crime and high education and attract business, you look at towns that have art,” Andrews said.

Local artists like Jade Genga, star of the recent Ole Miss production of “Marisol,” say the emotional impact of the arts community is also important.

“I really do think live theatre, especially because it’s so visceral, you kind of force yourself to think about things that you wouldn’t think or feel with a movie,” Genga said.

While starting discussion on current events is important, student Rebecca Whatley said the impact of the arts is simpler than that.

“It gives us things to do on weekends,” she said.

There will be plenty to do this month with events like the 19th Annual Double Decker Arts Festival being held April 25-26.

The two-day event is expected to draw over 50,000 people this year and produce more than $200,000 in tax revenue this month.

Andrews said the success of Oxford can be attributed to its vibrant arts community.

“You’ve got this constant influx of young talent that wants to create, but you also have a very supportive audience and capacity of wealth that is consuming the finer arts,” Andrews said.

The state’s creative economy currently employs 64,000 people, according to the Mississippi Business Journal.

Andrews said film and technology are the two fastest growing segments of art employment in Mississippi.

In addition to providing jobs, Andrews said getting kids involved in the arts can help society in many other ways.

“Truancy rates go down, crime rates go down, vandalism goes down,” Andrews said. “Leadership skills, health skills all go up.”

— Quinton Smith