The community of Oxford and Lafayette County came together to support local artists by investing in their proposed plans to connect businesses and artists last night. The Community Supported Artists (CSA) Launch Party was held at Track 61 and was hosted by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAC).
In exchange for their investments, investors received artwork from their artist of choice and were invited to a special reception to honor the CSA artists.
Wayne Andrews, director of the YAC, said that the event is to introduce people to artists and projects that they are working on.
“These are artists that have a business idea,” Andrews said. “And so we’re helping them. We’re here we provide them funding to help with their idea. (We) encourage them to go out and raise more money to make their project possible.”
Andrews also said that the event is a way to pre-purchase an artist’s product and, in turn, help the artist gauge how much product is necessary. The amounts people could invest ranged from $15 to $1,000 so that community members did not feel pressured to give a set amount of money.
“Maybe (artists) need a service like web design or something of that nature,” Andrews said. “So we try to get them to do something within their skill set… that we can talk about (and) highlight their skill to help get them to the next level.”
Five artists were featured at the event, including Brett Bartlett, Thomas Grosskopf, Hunter Johnson, Joey Mistilis and Emily Rennie. To participate, artists had to submit a proposal for their business needs and were selected by the arts council.
Artist Emily Rennie was invited by Andrews to participate who said she would be a great fit for the event. Rennie wrote a proposal detailing what she would do with the money from the community if she were to win. Her plan includes setting up an independent website for her small art business.
The money that Rennie received will go toward paying a student from Mississippi State University to help her get a website started and to continue marketing her work on social media.
“In between my regular job and sewing, I don’t have time to maintain a website,” Rennie said. “I don’t have time to set up the website. I don’t have time to do all the technical things. I know how to do it, or I can teach myself how to do it. I literally don’t have the time.”
In addition to community members investing money in her project, Rennie also said that she wanted to see programs similar to last night’s event get more exposure.
The event is part of the council’s business series that helps artists branch out into the community for business needs that they otherwise would not have the ability to obtain.