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Vidalia Officials Attend More Than Murals Workshop

The City of Vidalia participated in the first ever “More Than Murals Workshop,” a three-day intensive on using art to address community challenges.

The workshop was organized and sponsored by the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA), the City of Thomasville, the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), and the Thomasville Center for the Arts. The following 12 cities went through an application process to be chosen to participate: Canton, Cairo, Doraville, Griffin, Homerville, Milledgeville, Monroe, Sugar Hill, Tifton, Valdosta, Vidalia, and Watkinsville. Each of the cities’ teams had to include 3 local leaders representing an arts organization, or artist in their community, a city manager, or a member of the city council, and a downtown program manager or tourism professional. The team from Vidalia included Downtown Vidalia Association Executive Director Tonya Parker, The PAL Theatre Managing Director Michael Harden, and City Councilman Loyd Mobley.

The 12 cities got the opportunity to see what Thomasville has accomplished through strategic partnerships with artists, arts organizations, local businesses, and the city. After meeting with those responsible for Thomasville’s growth and seeing their arts-related projects, attendees participated in a crash course in creative placemaking and public art to learn how to plan and carry out effective artsbased programming. Each community team came away from the workshop with a specific arts-based strategy that addresses the challenges that each of their cities is facing.

“Creative arts and place making within your community are more than what you just see in a mural; it is the creative place making of arts that brings in culture and vibrancy. For Thomasville, the bronze sculptures “On the Hunt for the Lost Quail,” or the temporary art that we work with at the Center for the Arts really activate quality of life (in our community),” said April North, the Managing Director of the Marketing Communication for the City of Thomasville.

While many people think of art as only a fun concert or a pretty mural, the arts can be a powerful tool for cities to use to address community challenges as well as to encourage economic growth. The Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) believes that artists are the foundation of all arts-based economic and community development successes in our state. “Creative place making emphasizes listening to community members and utilizing local arts assets to address community challenges,” said GCA’s Managing Director Tina Lilly.

“Creative place making strategies through the arts can be a catalyst to growing and transforming communities,” said GMA’s Community and Economic Development Managing Director Cindy Eidson. “We commend the leaders of these 12 cities on their participation in this workshop and their commitment to positively developing their community by integrating the arts.” Following the workshop, each city will continue to work on their arts-focused strategy to activate a space within their own city by using the place making principles and concepts provided throughout the workshop. The Georgia Council for the Arts is supporting creative place making projects in each participating city by offering each an $8,000 grant. “We are pleased to be able to support arts projects in each of these communities, “said Georgia Council for the Arts Executive Director Tina Lilly. “These grants can be used to revitalize parks, build festivals to attract tourists, support arts education projects, or commission public art that brings communities together.”

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