Flint Energies announced today that the cities of Butler and Fort Valley have won grants from the Co-op’s Rural Murals program. The City of Butler won two grants. Flint will award $10,000 each to the Taylor County Chamber of Commerce, Austin Theater Enrichment Arts Alliance and the Taylor County Development Authority, as part of a matching grant. Each of these community groups will invest approximately $2,500 of their own funds towards their mural project.
The first Taylor County mural, titled “Butler, Georgia – Enjoying Life off the Beaten Path” will transform the side of Split Acres Floral building located at 20 South Broad Street in Butler. The second Taylor County mural will be located on the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office building at 4 West Main Street in Butler and will have the theme of “Taylor County, Georgia – Connecting You to the Rural Life”. This mural will incorporate the Georgia Grown slogan for the county, “Taylor made for you!” Fort Valley’s mural, titled “Peaches and More”, will grace the south wall of 110 South Camellia Blvd. Known as the Camellia Alley mural, this project will be an anchor to Fort Valley’s downtown revitalization efforts.
Each of the winning organizations has contracted with artist Chris Johnson of Columbus to paint their murals. Since 2017, Chris has painted more than 25 murals throughout Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In 2020, he was selected by Keep Roberta/Crawford County Beautiful to paint the second mural of Flint’s Rural Murals program. You can see examples of Chris’ mural work and community projects at his website: chrisjmfa.com.
The Rural Murals program establishes a collaboration between Flint Energies and the local, rural community to create murals that carry lasting impact, spark economic development and are the focal point of community discussion. The focus is to celebrate the unique history and diversity of our local rural communities. It is vital to establishing a strong sense of place for residents by creating suitable and recognizable murals within a community/downtown. The Rural Murals program intends to increase the number of public murals across Flint’s service territory while supporting the incredibly talented artist community within Middle Georgia. Flint Energies will identify and partially fund the projects that highlight positive images of Middle Georgia area’s history and culture through an application process.
The program’s murals are designed to bring travelers off main interstates to travel the backroads…off the beaten path to discover the vast resources our area has to offer. Money spent in the towns that host the murals will directly benefit those areas, as the funds are given by visitors and not long-time residents.
“It is our hope is to positively impact the aesthetics, activation, marketability and perception of our winner’s community; to increase property values and serve as a catalyst for continued private sector investment through visible improvements. We hope that these murals will provide visually-friendly environments for residents and visitors to dine, shop, work and live,” says Marian McLemore, Flint’s Vice President of Cooperative Communications. “We are excited to partner with both the Butler and Fort Valley on this year’s mural projects and hope they help spur economic growth for each of their communities,” says McLemore.
Flint’s first Rural Murals project, located at 100 N. Sumter Street in Oglethorpe, was completed in Fall 2019 by artist Jackie Fontenot of neighboring Montezuma. The second mural is in Crawford County on South Matthews Street in Roberta.
Earlier this year, Flint Energies invited rural communities located in the Co-op’s service territory to apply for the Rural Murals grant. Flint Energies’ service area encompasses parts of Bibb, Chattahoochee, Crawford, Dooly, Harris, Houston, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Muscogee, Peach, Schley, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor, Twiggs and Upson counties. In March, the Cooperative received four grant applications. A panel of art educators and aficionados served as judges and reviewed the applications. The top scoring mural ideas were funded.