[quote]I love living in Jackson. I’ve been able to watch my beloved city evolve from being identified as Mississippi’s capital city to a city on the verge of becoming the next big thing. With the renaissance and revitalization of Metro Jackson, also comes the opportunities and sometimes challenges of young and vibrant individuals to connect with a common issue to help make Jackson a young, hip, sexy metropolis for all young individuals.[/quote]
Recently I read an article that included a quote from Maya Angelou that stated, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value, no matter what their color.”
This quote has been rolling around in my thoughts for a couple of months now. Being that I am involved with lot of professional organizations, I began to wonder if this statement deems true regarding young professional organizations.
Not long ago, I was asked to become a board member of a local young artists organization. I had heard of the organization and being the director of a young professional organization, I was more than happy to volunteer my time, talents and experiences to an organization. I pre-concluded that the only commonality between this organization and the organization that I’m involved in was the age factor.
As our meeting progress, to my surprise our struggles and interest were the same. This organization faced the issues of low budget, identity and place in the community, acceptance from the business community and limited opportunities to grow their talents; some of the same challenges my organization faces. In order for Jackson or any city to become a place were young people gravitate to, we must began to bridge professionals cultures.
After this eye opening meeting with the local arts group, I had an opportunity to have a conversation with Tony Davenport, a young visual artist and chairman of the arts group steering committee.
Nicole: What do you think about the art scene in Jackson?
Tony: Jackson’s art community has grown tremendously, but has a long way to go to catch up with other states. There are a lot of young artists who need help in getting started. That’s why organizations such as the North Midtown Arts Center, Jackson Art Collectives and Greater Jackson Arts Council are vital in terms of helping local up and coming artists get their work out there.
Nicole: What do you think Jackson is missing in terms of having a vibrant art community?
Tony: Opportunities and relationships! I see so many opportunities for artist in the city of Jackson. I travel to other cities and see numerous projects that were done by a local artist to help make the city more attractive. Murals and sculptures can help beautify a downtown area and can also be an opportunity for local artists to display their art. We could do that same thing here. Having music festivals with an art component helps encourage the community that we do have an art scene in the city. Music and art can go hand and hand.
Nicole: How do you think that we can begin to bridge the professional cultures? Most individuals in the city of Jackson or around the state don’t see art as a profession. People view artists as people who are barely getting by and if they don’t work they don’t eat.
Tony: In the beginning stages of an artist’s career, working to support oneself is a way of life. It is a struggle when you’re in a community that has a small percentage of opportunities for those who choose to make their talent their career. Having the lack of support from those who are in a traditional profession compounds your efforts. I know for myself that getting out in the community meeting people, donating my work to charity and volunteering my talents has help me to create a brand. It has also helped in the creation of a demand for my work and has allowed more opportunities for my work to be shown. I also think education and being willing to be open on both sides of the professional coin helps us to understand each other better.
Written by Nicole McNamee
City of Jackson photo provided by Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau