Community Arts Centers come in many forms, but are usually built to host a variety of programs from as many arts disciplines as space can accommodate.  The 35,000 square feet of vacant warehouse and office space at 825 North Main Street (formerly the Hattiesburg American Building) would allow us to fit in almost ALL arts disciplines, as you can see from Sarah Newton’s conceptual plan (below).  Included is gallery space, studio space, collaborative office space, culinary arts, a performing arts auditorium and a recording studio capable of recording large ensembles, dance studios, classrooms, rehearsal space…. you name it, its there!conceptual plan copy

Model Programs:

Over the past year, we have traveled around (over the web and in person) to try and get a better feel for what other cities are offering! Take a look at some of our favorites- the possibilities are infinite!

Jackson, Mississippi- Arts Center of Mississippi

Just up 49 in our state capitol, the Greater Jackson Arts Council’s Arts Center is a decent example of the type of venue that we would like to see serve the residents of Hattiesburg and surrounding counties.  The venue boasts 40,000 square-feet of gallery, performance, and convention space, and is home to nine separate cultural organizations.

Greenwood, Mississippi- ArtPlace Mississippi

We had a chance to visit the fine folks at ArtPlace in the heart of the Delta last winter.  It was inspiring to meet Hart Henson, the director, and learn about the variety of  interactive, youth-focused programming they are able to host at their fantastic downtown venue- not to mention purchase a few handmade crafts!  Local students are able to participate in workshops ranging from sewing to woodworking to digital sound mixing- FOR FREE!  We would love to extend this kind of after-school opportunity to our kids!

Oxford, Mississippi- Yoknapatawpha Arts Council “Powerhouse”

We wandered into Yoknapatawpha Arts Council on a gloomy January day (after tearing ourselves away from a handful of stunning outdoor sculptures) to find a very engaged group of seniors taking a painting course surrounded by an awesome quilting exhibit!  The Powerhouse is, likewise, a multi-use venue, providing a home for visual arts workshops, community theater productions, and even film projects.  We’ve got a lot to learn from our rival college town in the North!

Eugene, Oregon- Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts (MECCA)

Our smART Space Coordinator Abigail would have died of happiness if she had seen this place!  Shelves stocked with left-over, donated craft materials line the walls; craft tables are set up and open to the community; materials are sold at a low-cost (or, if you are a teacher, given away for free); screen-printing equipment available for rent- all in all, an incredible, low-key environment for folks to get together and CREATE!  This August, in partnership with the HAC, high school senior Cade Slaughter was hugely successful at gathering donated supplies and distributing them to local public school classes… Imagine if we could Supply the Art to community members and school teachers ALL YEAR ROUND!