Summer is often synonymous with the end of lessons, the end of school and students thinking about something other than learning. Still, summer is one of the busiest times of the year, as parents enroll their students in art camps. Summer offers vacation time for adults to attend workshops, retreats or festivals that engage their interests. While all of the summer programming unfolds, behind the scenes planning for fall classes, after-school programs, or weekend experiences offered by 4-H, the First Regional Library, YAC, and local artists has already started.

Lafayette County welcomes teachers of all types, skills, and interests. Teachers from vocational schools that offer side-education. Professional musicians who pass on their skills by offering courses at the Oxford House of Music or the University of Roxford. Retirees who wish to pass on the talents and skills they have acquired. The range of possibilities to acquire a new skill, improve a talent or share knowledge is almost limitless. Tapping into community resources has been the driving force behind the Arts Council’s efforts to provide spaces for programming. The Lafayette County Arena, Powerhouse, and Old Armory Pavilion host yoga, painting, cooking, and gardening classes for all ages. The ability to provide the place and awareness to find those who share similar interests is part of YAC’s community development.

Camps and educational programs provide lifelong skills. The purpose of art camps is not just to teach children the basics of art. The goal is to provide the tools that allow us as individuals to explore and appreciate how our expressions of self can connect us to the wider community. As adults, exploring the history and tradition of food allows us to understand the world around us and apply that knowledge to creating our cuisine to tell our story. Learning to weave a pine needle basket based on the traditions of Indigenous peoples provides both skill and an understanding of people and place. A storytelling class provides skills to connect with other members of the community.

Courses and programs offered by organizations within the community are often suggested by community members. Currently, the Arts Council is taking ideas for courses. Courses can be as simple as people looking to come together around a topic such as Oxford Comma which offers monthly sharing sessions for those interested in writing. Courses can share an acquired skill. Former librarian Nancy Opalko learned to weave Kudzu baskets from artists Mark Barnes. She proposes to pass on this know-how. Joseph Stinchcomb and Taariq David host cocktail classes teaching the history behind spirits and how to create the perfect cocktail. Stacy Sanford, Debbie Myer, Constance Pierce and Andi Bedsworth teach sewing, crafts, painting and watercolour. If you have a passion, skill or idea that you would like to share with the community, the Arts Council seeks to provide you with the space to share. To find out how you can suggest, offer or offer a course, contact the Arts Council at 662-236-6429 or oxfordarts.com

Wayne Andrews is president of the YAC.

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