ArtPlace America funds the first maker festival in Macon, Ga. – Knight Foundation

ArtPlace America funds the first maker festival in Macon, Ga.

It’s a smart move for communities to promote local makers–studies have shown that local businesses can generate up to 70 percent more local economic impact per square foot than big box retailers. To this end, Macon, Ga. will host Make-End, the city’s first maker festival, this year in November. The festival is a partnership between SparkMacon, a community innovation or “makerspace,” and the College Hill Alliance, a placemaking organization that has received multiple Knight Foundation grants and was a 2015 Knight Cities Challenge winner

Festival organizers are currently accepting applications and hope to have 150 makers exhibit their work at this two-day event. There are two categories for vending opportunities: One division focuses on interactive displays, and the other section will consist of retail displays where the makers sell their crafts. The deadline to submit an application is August 31. The participating vendors will be selected by a panel of entrepreneurs, leaders and makers.

The Make-End planning committee is also issuing a call for featured attractions, such as Robot Resurrection out of Denver–an awe-inspiring, 30-foot robot made of airplane pieces. In addition to big attractions, the festival is accepting applications for ambassadors to help market the event, and volunteers for the festival are also needed. Organizers say more sponsors would be appreciated, too.

“The College Hill Alliance has been awarded a $125,000 grant from ArtPlace America to create a maker festival,” said Nadia Osman, the director of revitalization and business initiatives for the College Hill Alliance, as well as a founding board of director member for SparkMacon. “Our original grant request was doubled to ensure that the event is impactful and sustainable. As the only ArtPlace America recipient in the state, we are greatly honored and excited to begin work on this project. (Knight Foundation is a founding funder of ArtPlace America.)

Photo courtesy of College Hill Alliance.

Make-End seems like a natural evolution of Macon Made, a College Hill Alliance program that was founded in 2014. The initiative was kicked off by commissioning local graphic designer Jason Frost to create the logo that has been used to brand the local maker movement. He designed the Macon Made logo with intentions of customizing it at the request of local creators and businesses. This branding has been instrumental in various ways throughout the community by boosting morale and instilling a sense of Macon pride–it’s been placed everywhere from the helmets of Mercer University football players to buckets of brewed beer from the Macon Beer Company.

The inaugural Make-End festival will take place Nov. 14 (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) and 15 (noon-6 p.m.) at Tattnall Square Park in the College Hill Corridor.

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