Oxford American Magazine receives $290,000 grant from ArtPlace

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BY RL REEVES, JR

Big news coming out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Oxford American, the bible of Deep South culture, just received a mammoth grant from ArtPlace. They’re spending it wisely by opening a restaurant that will focus on southern cuisine, but they’re not stopping there.

The space will also feature nightly cultural performances across a broad spectrum, including music, drama, art, and film. Imagine watching Joe York movies while hunkered down over a plate of smoked Tamworth hog with a side of sustainably grown collard greens.

Sounds like my kind of place.

If you can’t make it to Little Rock don’t fear. Each evening’s offerings will be streamed across the world wide web via a sophisticated cluster of cameras and microphones. Oxford American is in the sack with PBS as well as NPR so you may rest assured that the quality will be world class.

From Warwick Sabin, publisher of the magazine: “We are honored and humbled to receive this ArtPlace grant, which will enable us to create a unique and sustainable cultural landmark on Main Street in Little Rock. When we moved into our new location a few months ago, our goal was to transform these historic buildings into a dynamic space that would reflect the content and spirit of The Oxford American as it contributes vitality and opportunity to the greater community. With the resources and national recognition conferred by ArtPlace, we will be able to do just that. By creating a cultural destination, we hope to propel the cultural and economic development of our community and elevate its standing as a creative place.”

NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman says,  “The arts are a part of everyday life, and I am thrilled to see yet another example of an arts organization working with city, state, and federal offices to help strengthen and revitalize their communities through the arts. It is wonderful that ArtPlace and its funders have recognized this work and invested in it so generously.”

Brilliant. Let a thousand flowers bloom and not just in Little Rock. Let’s hope this will provide an impetus for sleepy towns across the Deep South to jumpstart their art, culture and entertainment scene. Oxford American could provide a template for a re-invigoration of the South’s incredibly rich cultural scene.

I’m an avid reader of the magazine and it, along with Garden and Gun allow lots of people stranded in the “not quite Deep South” to keep our finger on the pulse of southern culture. It’s sounding like a road trip to Little Rock is in order once they get this venue up and running.

A complete list of this year’s ArtPlace awards can be found at artplaceamerica.org.



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