By Sabina Mollot
Ed Woodham, the founder of the Art in Odd Places festival, an event that takes over the length of 14th Street each October with visual and performance art pieces, has been kicked out of a community arts program that he now believes was aimed at promoting gentrification.
Woodham and another artist he partnered with on an artist-in-residence project, Samantha Hill, said that last Tuesday they were given the boot from this program — and their temporary home — when they failed to do publicity for it. This was after just 21 days of what was supposed to be a three to four-month residency in Macon, Georgia.
The problem, explained Woodham, is that when he agreed to the job, it was touted as a way to engage local residents in Macon and cultivate arts programs in an attempt to revitalize the area. However, as he and Hill began to speak with the residents in the neighborhood where they were staying, they began to wonder if their real function was to “art wash” or push the area as an arts hub at the expense of the existing residents. One reason they suspected this, said Woodham, was that Macon’s black residents were telling them they felt they hadn’t been included by the Macon Arts Alliance, the organization spearheading the Mill Hill program.