The Oxford arts community invites citizens to celebrate creativity at the Oxford Day for Art on Tuesday night.
The event was created to fill in for the Mississippi Day of Giving, a program that began two years ago to organize and provide support for non-profit organizations across the state. The program was discontinued because of budget cuts that eliminated arts funding and programs like Volunteer Mississippi.
“We can’t replace it for the entire state, but we can support our community,” said Wayne Andrews, executive director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. “It’s important to have a day that brings awareness to the arts and cultures and their contributions to the community.”
The evening kicks off with an art crawl that includes stops at the University of Mississippi Museum, the Chancellor’s House hotel, Southside Gallery, Burns-Belfry and Misbits.
“If you just want to see about what their program has to do, this is definitely a free, fun way to do it,” said Meghan Gallagher, the director of outreach and education for the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.
Valerie Guinn Polgar, founder and director of Misbits, said the gallery will hold an opening reception for artist Ashley Gerst’s solo show “The Spirit Seam: Sets and Clips” from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will also feature live music by Steve Brewer.
“Ashley will be showing sets created for her upcoming film ‘The Spirit Seam’ created using everything from 3D printing to fiber arts,” Polgar said.
Gerst will also be involved with the Fiber Arts Festival this week, as well as being a part of the Oxford Film Festival’s film-themed gallery crawl this month.
Polgar, Misbits, the Fiber Arts Festival and the Oxford Film Festival are all nominated for the inaugural Oxford Arts Awards, which will be given out at the Oxford Day for Art party at the Powerhouse at 8 p.m.
“As a donation, $10 gets you into the event. There are free drinks and food, and there’s going to be live music and DJs,” Gallagher said.
Performances during the event will be what Andrews called an “arts sampler” including sets from the Vinyl Vipers, Tate Moore, Theatre Oxford, Hinge Dance Company and a preview from the Oxford Film Festival.
Andrews said the awards aren’t meant to be a “best-of” contest but more of a way to recognize those who promote arts of all kinds within the community, selected by Oxford citizens, who can vote online at DayforArt.com.
“Unlike some towns, Oxford and Lafayette County has a depth of arts and cultural things. We’re not just a music town – we’re a literary town, we’re a film town and we’ve got great visual artists,” Andrews said.
According to an economic impact study done in 2017 by Americans for the Arts, programs in Lafayette County supported 336 jobs and generated almost $800,000 in government revenue in 2017. It also found that, in the only Mississippi county studied out of 341 regions, more than 223,000 people attended an arts or cultural event last year.
“The art community in Oxford provides the majority of the events and entertainment year round,” Polgar said, adding that she feels the community is incredibly welcoming and supportive of artists both new and old.
“Art brings people together, and when you bring people together, you allow the possibility to interact with or to learn from others in a way that you may not be able to do … in your regular routine,” she said. “Art sparks conversation and, under the best of circumstances, can lead to collaboration.”