What exactly does our arts council do? This question came up shortly after I accepted the fantastic responsibility as Executive Director of the Starkville Area Arts Council. Many people know that SAAC sponsors the Cotton District Arts Festival every spring, where 40,000 people swell into downtown and hit the Cotton District for arts & crafts, music, food... and humidity.
But, is that it... a festival?
Far from it. In fact, there’s a tremendous amount of talent in Oktibbeha County that SAAC has been working to build since 1996. Its mission? To build a strong, creative, connected community through the arts. Perhaps we’ve been a little too quiet, when I realized that a tangible answer to that question required digging into numbers. Most of us don’t curl up by the fire with a big tax return, unless you happen to be a CPA who is excited by Mensa quizzes in the back of airline magazines. The dictionary may sound more exciting than reading an IRS form. Yet, I wanted to find specifics… in dollars... that shows the work from a very green angle than simply reciting a thoughtful mission statement.
Did you know that, just across the past decade alone, SAAC has awarded almost $200,000 in grants and scholarships in Oktibbeha County? Our scholarships also include an uncommon opportunity for high school students to seek funding, in advance of college, for auditions, camps, and other summer programs.
Did you know that last year Art in the Park offered free hands-on art-related activities to approximately 400 children… in one day? If you missed it, you have another chance this September 23 in McKee Park. Even better, it’s open to the public... and FREE. No tickets. No admission fee. No babysitter required.
Have you heard about Art in Public Places? It’s a periodic showcase of local art in spaces open to the public, where area artists can show and sell their work, with reduced commission fees. It’s FREE to the public. Unless you buy something. Why spend $200+ for a framed mass-produced print from an online retailer, when you can support a local artist? Last year, AiPP helped generate more than $6,000 in sales for local artists. This isn’t everything we do, and certainly isn’t the limit of what we WANT to do. We are ready to grow and build upon the talented resources that call Oktibbeha County home. I’m here to help. Join me with SAAC to make the Starkville Area the cultural destination in Mississippi.