YAC aims to support local artists and entrepreneurs through the Big Bad Business series – The Oxford Eagle
The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council is currently accepting applications for two incubators for entrepreneurs in the region: The Big Bad Business Lab and Community Supported Arts.
The Big Bad Business Series is a partnership between YAC and the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation that offers free monthly workshops and sessions to entrepreneurs, inventors and start-up enthusiasts in northern Mississippi. In addition to being mentored and coached by experienced and successful entrepreneurs and artists from the region, participants will have the chance to network and build relationships.
The National Endowment for the Arts awarded the YAC a grant for its art projects program and a Creative Placemaking grant. Creative Placemaking gives the community time and resources to foster development and growth.
“The grants will help the creative economy and small businesses get more intensive support so they can stay [in Oxford]Said Meghan Gallagher, YAC Outreach and Education Coordinator. “A lot of people think there are more resources in Nashville or Memphis or think there aren’t any here, but that’s not true.
“Between the university [of Mississippi], EDF and what we’re trying to do at the Arts Council, if you really want to stay in the area, we’re trying to provide the resources that you find in the big cities and make Lafayette County your home.
YAC received a two-year grant to pilot the Big Bad Business Lab, a creative arts industry space to develop emerging arts-centric businesses to a sustainable size and long-term presence, and opened for applications for their second round.
The Lab will provide nine months of studio, performance / exhibition / retail and interactive workspaces to two cohorts of 4-6 entrepreneurial artists supported across all media. They will be connected to the community, including prospects and clients, through open studio hours, knowledge exchange sessions, community gatherings and arts-focused events, all in the framework of the security constraints of Covid-19.
Lee Ingram, owner of Collegiate Tutoring and Lee Ingram Books, is the creator-in-residence of the First Cohort and helps small business owners connect to resources in the community and up to Jackson.
The Lab not only goes beyond the community, it also attracts people.
“We have people attending from Tupelo and coming from Jackson to attend some of the lab-related workshops,” Gallagher said. “I like it. The more people you can have in a room, the more experiences, learning and cross-pollination of ideas you can share.”
YAC also focuses on challenging its artist and elevating his creativity through the community-supported arts lab and incubator.
The CSA incubator allows participants to create, through their talent and art, products that will generate a source of income. The creatives of the CSA program can use their funds to achieve a business objective, such as seeking technical expertise in the areas of website development.
Also, the program accepts investors looking to support CSA artists and can purchase projects in advance.
According to Gallagher, community input is critical to growth and YAC is currently collecting opinions through a poll on what the public might want to see in the new wing of the building. The wing will hold more classes and more artists and facilitate more connections in the community.
“Artists not only do beautiful art, but they are economic engines and they shape community and conversations,” said Gallagher. “The more people you have in a room, the more hopefully the new building will bring out more the arts and small businesses of northern Mississippi.”
For more information on the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council Big Bad Business Series, their programs and how to apply, visit www.oxfordarts.com/programs/arts-incubator or contact YAC Outreach and Education Coordinator, Meghan Gallagher, at [email protected]