The 17th Annual Arts Alive! Festival celebrates our Gulf Coast creative culture with all of Old Town Bay St. Louis as a venue.
- story by Dena Temple
Arts Alive! began 17 years ago as a simple tour of artists’ private studios in the area. Today it is a free, multi-day, multi-venue event that draws young and old alike to admire the talent of our local artisans. The celebration generates a high level of excitement from the community and area merchants alike.
The event, produced by the non-profit organization The Arts, Hancock County, will take place in multiple outdoor locations around Old Town Bay St. Louis. Venues are located on Main Street, Second Street, Court Street – even the lumberyard will host artists exhibiting their work.
Displays will feature many different mediums, from paintings, wood creations, sculpture and pottery to photography and ceramics, among others.
Bigger, and better
“This is the big show,” exclaims Steve Barney, president of The Arts, Hancock County, “and it gets bigger and better every year. This event really has stood the test of time. We’re putting our best foot forward and showcasing the best of Hancock County.”
Arts Alive! has expanded to two full days for 2019 due to the tremendous interest of the public and the enthusiastic support of area merchants and the artists themselves. Participation by local artists has exploded, with 30% more artists already registered at press time – and more still signing up to display their work.
“For many young artists, this is their big debut,” explains Barney. “It’s their very first experience exhibiting their artwork. They’ll set up their tents, hang their work, and share it with the public for the first time. That can be extremely exhilarating. We’re excited to give them that opportunity.”
In addition to more than 50 of our best and brightest local artists displaying their work, this year’s show will also feature a Pottery Village, located on Second Street between Century Hall and the Mockingbird Café. Local pottery artists will display their creative, colorful wares, and visitors can have fun with live pottery demonstrations as well.
Acoustic musicians and other live entertainers will perform on the Shoofly Magazine Community Stage, located on the steps of the Courthouse (see schedule at the end of this story!). There will also be live music at the Mockingbird Café (110 S. Second Street).
On Saturday night, visitors are encouraged to stay and enjoy a mini film festival on the courthouse lawn, weather permitting.
Participating local merchants be participating as well. “Our local merchants are supporting the Arts Alive! Festival in every way,” Barney confirmed. “They’re proud of our hometown, our artists, and our community's reputation as a mainstay of the arts in Mississippi.”
The most innovative new feature of the festival, according to Barney and Aryana Ivey, event producer, is the brand-new Makerspace area. Here, many artists and makers will demonstrate their crafts and offer hands-on activities.
In addition, a number of area non-profit organizations are participating to provide art activities for children that incorporate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as part of the art experience. Read more about the Makerspace area in this month’s Arts Alive column.
“There is a lot of excitement from our local non-profits to engage our youth with art, in a way that will help prepare them for high-paying jobs after graduation,” said Aryana Ivey.
Arts Alive! hours are 10am – 5pm on Saturday, March 23, and 11am – 4pm on Sunday, March 24. Admission is free. For the latest updates on the event, or for sponsorship or exhibitor information, visit the Arts, Hancock County website at www.hancockarts.org.
Arts Alive Live Performance Schedule
The Shoofly Magazine Stage will be located in front of the County Courthouse on Main Street. The Mockingbird Café Stage is just around the corner at 110 S. Second Street.
Saturday, March 23
11am - 11:30am – Shoofly Stage: Chamber Ribbon Cutting
11:30am - 1:30pm – Shoofly Stage: Kelsey Moran
1:30pm - 3:30pm – Shoofly Stage: Mockingbird Open Mic
4pm - 6pm – Mockingbird Café: Electric Sheep
6pm - 7:30pm – Shoofly Stage: Bay Ratz Marching Battery, Pandemonium and Fire Dancers Extravaganza of Light Sound and Flesh
7:30pm – 8:30pm – Shoofly Stage: Film Festival
Sunday, March 24
Noon – 12:30pm Shoofly Stage: St Rose Handmaidens dancers
12:30pm - 2:30pm – Shoofly Stage: Diggs Darcy
2:30pm - 5:30pm – Shoofly Stage: 100 Man Hall Open Mic
The Arts Alive festival doesn't receive any municipal funding for the event - it relies on volunteers, sponsors and donations.
You can help by contributing (even small amounts make a big difference) on their Go-Fund-Me page. It only takes a few moments!