Creative economy: Arts community important to tourism

Published 9:10 am Monday, July 20, 2015

ARTIST’S DRAW: Vicksburg Art Association members, from left, Rachel Bacon, Jean Blue, and Lesley Silver. Vicksburg is home to a thriving arts community that attracts tourism.

ARTIST’S DRAW: Vicksburg Art Association members, from left, Rachel Bacon, Jean Blue, and Lesley Silver. Vicksburg is home to a thriving arts community that attracts tourism.

When tourists come to Vicksburg, their attention is focused on the city’s crown jewel, the Vicksburg National Military Park, which tells the story of the Siege of Vicksburg.

But Vicksburg Art Association member and artist Randy Jolly told members of the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club July 14 the city has another vital and important tourist attraction — its art community.

“The creative economy is here, it is important, it is part of the building block we need to continue to support in our community, and it is people like you who help us support this (art) community,” said Jolly, who also serves as the curator of Mississippi College’s Gore Gallery in Clinton. “It’s not a one-person thing; not just the artists; it’s the community working together.”

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The creative economy, he said, is products and services that obtain value from a distinctive appearance, content or emotional response.

“Every dollar invested into the arts comes back to the community 13 times, approximately,” he said. “It is one of those types of tools we need, especially where tourism is our major industry. It is such an important part of our community, that the arts association supports that and works with that, and helps to develop those artists, those creative people, who are going to go out in the community and help develop the community and make it productive and a success.”

Housed in the old Constitution Firehouse, the art association is a non-profit and that has supported arts and artisans for more than 40 years.

“What’s unique is it is one of the oldest art associations in the southeast truly led by the artists,” Jolly said. “It’s artists putting back into the community for all the things they’re given by the community. It’s mutual support type organization.”

He said the association promotes local artists through its shows at the firehouse, but also supports other creative outlets and private galleries in the city.

He said one of the city’s more popular downtown attractions is the riverfront murals.

“There are always tourists down there,” he said. “Every day there are tourists looking at those so it was an investment well-made. It keeps our tourists another day in the city it gives them something else to see.

“We need to do more of those things where we actually spotlight Mississippi artists,” he said. “That’s our goal; to spotlight Mississippi artists, but any artist we can spotlight will help generate funds for our city.”

Besides the artists, the city is part of the Mississippi Blues Trail and the city’s restaurants, Jolly said, are well-known.

“We have distinctive restaurants,” he said. “The culinary arts continue to contribute and support out community.”

He urged the members to become active in the art association. “We invite you to become actively involved and support our arts community,” he said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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