Macon Arts Alliance Hosts Open House of Blues in East Macon
Macon, GA—Macon Arts Alliance Executive Director, Jan Beeland, will welcome community partners, project funders, vendors, citizens and local stakeholders to the freshly painted front porch of the Mill Hill Community Arts Center on Monday, March 5th. Fort Hawkins, Macon’s historic first neighborhood, has a new neighborhood asset thanks to a collaboration of visionaries. The 7,000-sq. ft. 1920s building has been transformed into the Mill Hill Community Arts Center, a gathering place for learning, listening and sharing artistic experiences.
In October 2014, the Knight Foundation invited a group of interested community leaders to visit Bradenton, Florida. They saw firsthand how the small town was utilizing the arts as a catalyst to bring vibrancy back to a blighted neighborhood. The very next day, Mayor Robert Reichert suggested that the group consider East Macon. Soon after that tour, Macon Arts Alliance and the Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority formed a partnership.
The success of the project would depend on the acceptance of the neighborhood. So, public meetings were held in Fort Hawkins to get input, to engage participation and most importantly, to listen. After receiving a positive reception from the neighborhood, they agreed to move forward with plans to continue efforts to bring vibrancy back to the blighted neighborhood.
In 2015, the Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority purchased the Old Bibb Mill Manufacturing Auditorium with plans to develop the Mill Hill Community Arts Center.
The Community Foundation of Central Georgia received a challenge grant from an anonymous donor to leverage additional support to restore the 1920s facility. Six Macon-Bibb County Commissioners rallied to accept the challenge and allocated blight funds to the restoration effort. The Peyton Anderson Foundation and the Grassmann Trust joined the effort and completed the building fund.
Architect Robert Beeland visualized the plans and Piedmont Construction handled the renovation of the historic structure. Sam Kitchens and a team from Macon-Bibb Parks and Beautification are working on the green space. Mill Hill Project Director JR Olive stated, “It has been such a rewarding experience to see this transformation. The neighborhood has a new place to connect, conspire and create.”
The public is invited to attend the Open House of Blues today at 5 PM at the Mill Hill Community Arts center located at 213 Clinton Street in East Macon. Following brief remarks and a ribbon cutting, guests will be invited inside for tours, barbecue and live blues from the Robert Lee Coleman Band, presented with support from Gallery West and volunteer hosts from AARP.
About Macon Arts Alliance
The mission of the Macon Arts Alliance is to foster and support the advancement of arts and culture in Central Georgia. We strive to be an innovative leader of a diverse and thriving arts community as well as a strategic partner in creating an open, inclusive, and vibrant place for artists, arts organizations, residents, businesses, and tourists. Macon Arts Alliance is the designated local arts agency of Macon-Bibb County. For more information about the Macon Arts Alliance, please visit www.maconartsalliance.org or call 478-743-6940. The Macon Arts Alliance is located at 486 1st Street, Macon, Georgia 31201.