With new restaurants, businesses, cultural venues, and the creation of second-story living spaces, downtown Mount Vernon is in a state of renaissance.
Buchwald Plaza, on the corner of South Main and West Gambier Streets, has been re-imagined into South Main Plaza, a space that brings new energy and increased vitality into the neighborhood, including creation of a whimsical new water feature focal point. Inspired by world-renowned landscape architect Claude Cormier’s fountain in Toronto’s Berczy Park, South Main Plaza’s fountain includes painted cast aluminum sculptures of 18 dogs, one cat, two pairs of birds, a pony, an apple and the coveted golden dog bone. Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a key partner in reimagining the possibilities in downtown Mount Vernon and is bringing the South Main Plaza concept to reality through a grant from The Ariel Foundation. To learn more about supporting the endowment at Knox County Foundation for the ongoing care and maintenance of South Main Plaza, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org; or to make a donation, please visit www.knoxcf.org and click the “Donate” button at the top of the homepage and select “MVNU South Main Plaza Fund” from the menu.
In 2019, a series of major technical upgrades was made to Knox County Memorial Building’s theater through grant funding from The Ariel Foundation. Included in this technical upgrade was state of the art audio visual and lighting equipment, plus a stage storage addition. This 1926 community asset houses an almost 1,000 seat theater that features a proscenium stage with an orchestra pit and a large projection screen. Area residents and visitors alike will enjoy high quality entertainment in Mount Vernon’s historic district for many more years to come.
The rebrand launch with the new name of Mount Vernon Music and Arts Festival https://www.mvmaf.org repositions this local festival as being more inclusive – from volunteers, committees, and board members to event attendees and featured arts, entertainment, and performers.
The festival held annually, the second weekend in August, presents a celebration of the arts; creating experiences that entertain, educate, and inspire, uniting artists and audiences within the historic backdrop of Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Additional marketing support from this grant furthers the public reach into neighboring cities and communities as well as targeting personal interests. From entertainment to the wood challenge, kids activities, etc., this grant provides needed resources to build infrastructure for reuse over multiple years.
Support toward launching engagement and public programs at its new downtown Mount Vernon location began in 2023 at 12 E. Gambier Street, the Gund Gallery Annex, is a collaborative programmatic space designed to strengthen community connections through engagement with the visual arts and to facilitate and build lasting relationships with and among Knox County residents, local organizations, Kenyon community members, volunteers, Gund Gallery staff, and other constituents and stakeholders. Grant support assists with developing, organizing, implementing, and managing programming, as well as overseeing the Gund Annex during operating hours strengthens leadership, vision, strategy, relationship-building, and effectiveness in advancing the educational mission of the gallery, including a commitment to broaden its reach well beyond the confines of the Kenyon campus.
The Gund Annex offers opportunities for visitors to discuss how art can raise awareness and uncover common ground regarding complex, often divisive societal issues that affect us all. Envisioned as a flexible space where local residents, including those at Kenyon, can learn from and with one another through thoughtful consideration of distinct points-of-view; participate in the creative process via artist-led workshops; and consistently invite art-informed reflection on what it means to become a mutually supportive community based on respect, civility, trust and friendship.
The Mount Vernon Arts Consortium https://mountvernonartsconsortium.org, a non-profit supporting organization of the Knox County Foundation, amplifies arts and entertainment in Mount Vernon to enrich the community, strengthen the economy, cultivate meaningful relationships, and provide opportunities for residents and guests to enjoy revitalized historic venues through unique cultural experiences. Benefiting from Arts Consortium services are three pillar arts venues: Knox County Memorial Building and Theater, Ariel-Foundation Park’s Schnormeier Event Center and other rental spaces within the park, and the Woodward Opera House and its facilities. Additional assistance and services are provided to local partnering organizations under the “Mount Vernon Presents” banner including the Community Concert Association, MTVarts, Experience Mount Vernon, and the Mount Vernon Music and Arts Festival. The “Mount Vernon Presents” partners come together for the alignment and coordination among partner organizations, including marketing, shared media, earned media, strategy, and overall maximization of resources.