Wednesday night, the Macon Arts Alliance held an open community forum to discuss the Mill Hill East Macon Arts Village project.
Nearly 70 people packed the East Macon Family Investment Center to engage in an open discussion about Mill Hill.
"I think what it did for us is show us that people really care about this project," says MAA Director of Creative Placemaking, Jonathan Harwell-Dye.
Last week, the Macon Arts Alliance announced that they had fired Samantha Hill and Ed Woodham-- the two artists assigned to create art projects in the Mill Hill community.
"I am super sad to leave because everybody that I've met in Macon has been so kind to me," says terminated artist Samantha Hill.
Their termination raised some questions about the true intentions of the project. The open forum allowed concerned citizens to voice their questions-- many focusing who was buying the properties on Mill Hill, and if current residents would be forced out.
Executive Director of The Macon Urban Development Authority, Alex Morrison, says he and the UDA are the ones buying the homes, and they have been for a few years. He says this was a known fact, but was lost in translation between Mill Hill residents and Mill Hill landlords.
He says thanks to the meeting, there has been clarification, and the UDA's goal is not to displace anyone but simply improve the lives of everyone in the neighborhood.
"We are going to keep moving on and try to keep the prices affordable so that no one is displaced and that anyone who wants to be in this neighborhood has the opportunity to be in this neighborhood," says Morrison.
The MAA says that although they fired the artist they plan to also move forward.
"We are going to keep working on this project, we're going to keep moving forward, we're going to deliver on the promises that have been mad, but we're also going to look at the program and make sure that the program is designed so that everyone in the community and folks that live in this neighborhood are represented at every level," says Harwell-Dye.
And although she has been terminated from the project, Hill says she is glad the forum started an open dialogue in the community.
"Macon has a good heart and I am really sad to leave and that we have to go," says Hill.
She hopes the local art community can grow and evolve as the project moves forward.