The Oxford American magazine has won a $290,000 grant to transform its new headquarters on Main Street (in Juanita’s former home) as a place for the arts, built around a branded restaurant featuring Southern cooking.
The work includes audio and video equipment to record programs — music, video, literature — that can be distributed around the world.
Publisher Warwick Sabin envisions the addition to the South Main district as part of creating a cultural destination. The magazine was one of 47 recipients of support in a competitive program that drew interest from more than 2,000 organizations.
UPDATE: In an interview, Sabin reiterated the vision he laid out for the Times last November when the Oxford American signed a five-year lease on the space at 1300 Main Street: to serve lunch and dinner in the Southern themed restaurant and host cultural programming every evening — literary readings, film screenings, concerts, theatrical performances, lectures. NPR, already a partner with the Oxford American, and PBS both want to broadcast the programming. Sabin said he’d already talked with the Clinton School on partnering with programming and planned to reach out to other organizations in the state like the King Biscuit Blues Festival and the Ozark Foothills Film Festival.
“We want to retain the character of the room, but it needs some significant improvement and updating,” he said. “My hope is that we’ll take this initial grant and use it to get the space in the condition we want it to be in, so that we can open by January 2013. I’m sure we’ll need additional resources. But the grant is certainly a strong endorsement and confirmation of the worthiness of our concept. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to attract additional support.”
The new space, which the OA is calling South on Main, will only occupy the southern half of the ground floor, where Juanita’s used to hold concerts. The magazine’s business offices are on the second floor. The other half of the ground floor will house another tenant that’s yet to be confirmed, Sabin said.
Naturally, the news comes with video.