ArtsRevive works to revitalize downtown

Published 6:11 pm Saturday, October 1, 2016

By Blake Deshazo | The Selma Times-Journal

Selma native Monique Williams loves art, so there was no doubt in her mind when she was asked to donate money to ArtsRevive’s capital campaign that started last fall.

“It’s always been a part of my life since I was little,” Williams said. ”My great-grandfather was an artist, and we always had beautiful paintings in our home when we grew up.”

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Williams is one of 65 others who have donated money to ArtsRevive’s $1 million campaign.

“When I have people to make a donation to this campaign, I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to me personally and to the nonprofit ArtsRevive,“ said capital campaign chair Fran Pearce. “It lets us know that we’re on the right path to bringing downtown back when people are willing to put their money into what we’re doing.”

The campaign is funding a three-phase project to revitalize downtown Selma and turn it into an arts district.

“Downtown is the heartbeat of any city,” Pearce said. “I don’t care what size it is, and we need to revitalize our downtown, the heart of Selma, and bring it back to the life we all want it to have.”

But to do that, Pearce and ArtsRevive are depending on people like Williams, who believe in the vision.

“I always like to get behind anything I believe firmly in, and ArtsRevive is one that I am thankful to be a part of,” Williams said. “I contribute to a lot of different charities, but this one I felt strongly about doing so.”

Williams loves the idea of seeing art downtown and having somewhere to showcase Selma’s many artists and learn about art.

“When I look at a painting it just makes me feel warm inside,” Williams said. “There are probably some people in this town that have never gone into an art gallery, and it could change their mind completely.”

The campaign is funding the transformation of the Carneal Building into an arts and culture Center, Gallery 905 and a garden.

ArtsRevive also wants to bring in local artists to teach children and others about art, and that is one reason why Thomasine Johnson and her son, Michael Johnson, felt the need to give back.

“Anything that’s going to help the children in this community as well as help the community, we are all for it,” Thomasine said.

“This is an area that I think would really help children because not everybody should do the same thing. We need to make sure we can reach out to all children.”

Johnson said exposing her son to art and music as a child helped him develop into the man he is today.

She, as well as Williams, encourage others who want to help make Selma a better place to give back to ArtsRevive and help their dream become a reality.

“They need to support the city of Selma be it whatever way you can,” Williams said.

“If it is ArtsRevive, if it is the library or anything to get people motivated to get this town moving in a great forward direction.”

Pearce said the nonprofit is thankful for all of those who have donated and put their belief in them and hopes many more decide to do so as well.

“For ArtsRevive to be successful with the vision that we have for reviving downtown, we’ve got to have other people learning about that vision and joining in to make our art district come to life downtown,” Pearce said.

For information on ArtsRevive’s capital campaign and to donate, go to