Portland, Oregon is a city with a population of about 647,000 people compared to Oxford’s 23,000. With the slogan “Keep Portland Weird,” the city focuses heavily on the arts, with hundreds of galleries, theaters and murals.
University Avenue is in an area that is transitioning with new business developments, and the street has experienced new business growth, but some also view it as the older part of town. Opinions are mixed on whether an arts district, or area of arts emphasis, would be beneficial.
Art can be found in every corner of Oxford. Sculptures in Lamar Park, The Powerhouse Community Arts Center, and the upstairs space of Sugar Magnolia Antique Mall are just a few of examples of art-centric locations. But would an arts district be supported in Oxford?
Oxford, Mississippi is well known for its creative culture. Many renowned artists, writers, chefs, and other artistic people reside in the town. Travelers from all over visit. Some in the arts community envision an Oxford arts district with residential and studio artist spaces.
If you spend a lot of time on the west side of town, you may not have much of a reason to venture over to University Avenue for anything, which might lead you to believe business is declining in that area. However, according to two University Avenue business owners, business has been steady.
Arts, culture, and creativity can improve a community’s competitive edge, attract new visitors, and integrate the visions of both community and business leaders. That’s why some view public art as an investment.