How Covid-19 Impacted a Local Art & Community Center


Grace Wood

On the corner of North Wayne Street and east of McIntosh Street sits a beautiful white house built by famous early 1800s architect John Marlor. The Marlor House is just one of four buildings belonging to Allied Arts in downtown Milledgeville.

Allied Arts is a non-profit organization that presents a wide range of arts, such as performing arts and heritage arts, to the Milledgeville and Baldwin County area. In addition to welcoming visitors to its art galleries, the organization also hosts a variety of workshops, fulfilling its mission to bring meaningful, affordable, and accessible art to the community.

Like many organizations worldwide, Allied Arts was forced to rethink how to deliver on its mission during the Covid-19 Pandemic. It closed its doors to the public for the last two years because of the Pandemic. And like many art centers and museums, Allied Arts adapted to the virtual world, taking many of its programs online.

Allied Arts makes a wide variety of workshops and art shows available to the community. Under COVID-19 restrictions, the staff had to teach their workshops online through trial and error.

“We had online virtual programming,” said Acting Executive Director Leslie Peterson. “We had groups meeting online” and “we had a virtual summer camp.”

Through trial and error, the directors of Allied learned what works best for their workshops and programs online. Peterson said being forced to go virtual became a “crash course” to see how they could continue to serve the community.

The organization also found ways to display art exhibits online to make them accessible to people in and out of the Milledgeville community. Peterson said she “learned how to build virtual 3D galleries that you can walk through” to enhance the virtual gallery experience for patrons.

Allied Arts currently has an exhibit displaying art by Baldwin County students on its website, which one can enjoy with a 3D headset. They plan to add More virtual reality exhibits to the gallery online.

The directors at Allied Arts learned how to experiment with many other platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn. However, Facebook and the Allied Arts’ website are the best way to stay updated on current exhibits and events. See here. website

Before the Pandemic, Allied Arts had a program where people told local stories to honor oral history traditions, and the staff recorded the stories for their records. When the Pandemic hit, the directors began uploading these recordings onto the Allied Arts’ YouTube channel for others to enjoy during quarantine.

In the past, Allied Arts offered one of its buildings, the Allen Market, as a location for the local Red Cross’ blood drive. Peterson recalls the blood drive being the only one during the first year of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Allied Arts hosted an in-person event on March 20 to open its current exhibit: The Art of Transformation, where GMC Prep School students could see their art featured at a real gallery. It has been two years since the organization has been able to hold this exhibit. The annual event is something the kids usually look forward to.