How community conversations will help plan Macon’s arts and culture future

Here’s what a conversation about art and culture in Macon sounds like

Around a dozen people gather in the South Bibb Recreation Center to talk about art and culture in Macon on June 3, 2019.
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Around a dozen people gather in the South Bibb Recreation Center to talk about art and culture in Macon on June 3, 2019.

About a dozen community members gathered at the South Bibb Recreation Center this week to talk about Macon’s future.

This gathering was the third community conversation in the last few weeks led by the Macon Arts Alliance that are supposed to help create a cultural master plan, said Julie Wilkerson, the executive director of the alliance.

“We really want to do three things: we want to increase access and opportunities for Macon-Bibb County citizens, we want to encourage people to come live here and work here, because we are a creative community, and we also want to encourage people to visit here to increase tourism,” she said.

The planning process is funded by a $100,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and it is being led by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia in partnership with several community organizations, according to a press release.

A steering committee comprised of 50 other organizations will help develop the plan.

The conversation held at the recreation center focused on what the area already does right and what else could be added to help improve art and culture offerings in the years to come.

Some of those attending the meeting Monday indicated they’d like to see more events all over Macon, not just downtown, as well as a wider variety of events.

Artis Johnston, whose children teach piano and guitar at the Rosa Jackson Center, said he would like to see “a centralized place where people can go and find out what’s going on.” He added that such a listing needs to be inclusive.

Brooks Dantzler, an artist who owns Creative Alternative, said she came to the meeting to represent working artists. She said she was encouraged by what she heard.

“ I loved hearing what (they) had to say. This is refreshing, very refreshing,” Dantzler said.

A webinar will be posted online for those that weren’t able to attend the sessions. A do-it-yourself guide for people to host their own art and culture sessions also will be put online, said Joy Bailey-Bryant of Lord Cultural Resources, which is helping facilitate the process.

Wilkerson said the comments and ideas from the conversations will be gathered and reported back to the planning group.

For more information about the plan, visit

Anisah Muhammad is an intern reporter at The Telegraph, a journalism major at Mercer University, a self-published author, a spoken word poet and the co-founder of an online magazine.