A trio of artistic leaders and businesspeople have ambitious plans to grow The Arts, Hancock County to enhance creativity, local culture - and the economy.
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
One of Barney’s more recent community projects, the Magnolia Bayou STEM art project, worked with the local Boys & Girls Club to create a video and multi-media exhibit.
Madden is a designer and professional photographer, in addition to being co-founder of the Bay’s Smith & Lens Gallery, 106 S. Second Street, BSL. Madden and her business partner, Sandy Maggio, have garnered national attention for the Bay by creating two events celebrating the birthdays of women in the arts. Frida Fest, held in July, honors Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, while Dolly Should in January, focuses on singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. Both events have been poular area business boosters.
Barney says that plans are already underway for a raft of new and updated programs in 2018. He says that the long-range goal is to create partnerships with the Chamber, the Old Town Merchants Association, and local governments - collaborations that will promote economic development throughout the community.
For instance, a series of public art projects are already in the works with the Hancock County Board of Supervisors. Barney’s also working on plans to host a one-day “economic/arts summit,” to explore ways The Arts can coordinate efforts with other organizations to attract more visitors, residents and businesses over the long haul.
Look for Arts Alive! – a popular multi-media event that takes place in March (March 24, 2018) – to get a face-lift this spring. Produced by The Arts in coordination with Old Town merchants, this year, the event will bring more fine art to the streets. The film festival segment, introduced last year will be expanded as well.
The juried exhibition for The Arts members will be moved to a higher visibility venue (TBA).
“We’re going to focus on more hands-on demonstration type things for the 2018 Arts Alive,” says Barney. “For instance, I’m also working with artist Vicki Niolet to do a big Steampunk build-out. In real time, we’ll actually be welding together a kinetic sculpture while people watch.”
Also on the table is a tour of artist studios in the fall, and more arts workshops.
“We’re having more classes offered here at the Bay Creative Arts Center all the time,” Barney says, citing everything from pottery classes to flower arranging workshops. “It’s part of a bigger initiative to bring snowbirds down here for the winter for artists in residence opportunities.”
Barney points out that local B&Bs and vacation rentals will benefit by the endeavor, as well as local shops and restaurants.
Membership benefits will be making a huge stride forward in 2018, according to Barney. The Arts is updating its website, integrating more social media and streamlining the members community – making it easier for artists to join and sign up for committees or events.
“We have big social media initiatives planned, including Instagram “takeovers,” and artist of the month features,” Barney explains. “Donna Martin will oversee our gallery exhibitions, standardizing the system to manage gallery openings at the Waveland City Hall and other venues. Our educational outreach will also be expanding.”
Barney says that the Magnolia Bayou project has already borne positive and long-lasting fruit: The Arts has teamed up with the Raw Oyster Marching Club to bring a weekly after-school arts program to the local Boys & Girls club.
To join The Arts, Hancock County, click here! You can even pay online.