Macon art community endorses creative workforce proposal

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Americans for the Arts want decision-makers to help get creative workers back to work. 

The group proposed a 15-step action recovery strategy to help artists across the US, including Macon.

Julie Wilkerson, executive director for Macon Arts Alliance, says over 1,500 people signed the proposed plan by Americans for the Arts. Its mission aims to help those artists impacted by COVID 19.

“[The first mission is] for the federal government to directly employ creative workers,” said Wilkerson. “The second is for the federal government to encourage federal agencies, local government, and state government to also employ creative workers.”

According to Wilkerson, nearly 63 percent of creative workers lost their jobs during the pandemic and have not returned to work. She says the recovery strategy will allow creative workers to help out with things people normally don’t think about.

“[Things such as] mental health, education, healthcare, social injustice,” Wilkerson said.

According to a 2017 study by Americans for the Arts, non-profit art organizations in Macon-Bibb County have an $88 million economic impact. The same study shows that those organizations support 3,000 jobs, contributing nearly $4 million in revenue to local government and over $3 million to the state.

Ric Geyer, the chief creator at Triangle Arts Macon, says there need to be more opportunities to create and keep Georgia’s art community alive.

“Now our version of that is to build an art installation and let the art decorate it basically,” said Geyer.

Geyer says his idea will give artists work and recognition. He adds with his plan, Triangle Art Macon can be the next Pasquin or Paradise Garden — two of Georgia’s well-known art installations.

“I like this place to be every bit as cool as those places,” Geyer said.

Artist Rhonda Miller says she has been at Triangle Arts Macon for a year. She says if Geyer had not taken a chance on her, she would not have been able to create or cope.

“People like to express their feelings and emotions through art. Especially with what’s going on with COVID, racism, election, and violence,” Miller said.

Wilkerson says the Macon-Bibb arts community is supported by the county’s hotel/motel tax. However, he says it hasn’t done well in the last six months, although better than the national average.

Wilkerson says the proposal will be delivered to both presidential campaigns and members of congress. They want to make them aware of the group’s recovery and rebuilding strategies.