Arts Alive to give Hancock Co. economic boost

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The arts of all kinds will be alive and on display in Bay St. Louis this Saturday. It's an event expected to bring hundreds of visitors to town. City leaders say the art community in Hancock County has long been a significant economic driver.

Joy Lyons is one of the featured artist at Saturday's Arts Alive exhibition. She uses water colors to create beautiful works of art. She says she moved to Waveland two years ago because of the natural beauty and scenery the area offers.

"I spent a lot of summers growing up here because I lived in New Orleans," Lyons said. "But it's always inspired me because I love the shrimp boats, and fish, and the water. It's always inspired me to paint, and when we moved away to Georgia, I really missed it," said Lyons.

She's one of more than 200 working artists in town who help to turn the wheels of Hancock County's economy.

"We want to come here, we want to buy houses here, and we want to live here. So we support the economy that way, we buy our groceries here, we try to shop locally. And I hope people will return that favor when they are looking for art work," explained Lyons.

Artist Martha Butler will demonstrate the art of flower arrangement during the Arts Alive event. She said folks looking for art often check Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs first.

"Almost every shop in Bay St. Louis has art work in it contributed by a local artists, and that feeds right back into the economy when visitors come and purchase that art work. That boosts our sales tax in the county and definitely helping out a lot of starving artists," said Martha Butler, Owner French Potager on Main Street in Old Town Bay St. Louis.

The direct impact artist have on the local economy is hard to quantify, but the mayor of Bay St. Louis says it's significant.

"The economy is not always a dollars and cents retail economy that goes to the artist a lot of times it's the spin off economy that comes from people visiting here," said Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.

Nearly 60 local artists of all kinds will take part in the Arts Alive event, held in downtown Bay St. Louis Saturday from 10am til 5pm. See a schedule of events, list of artists and a map of the event venues:

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