Fort Payne student creates video for Mentone Arts Center, enters USA Today grant competition!

Fort Payne student creates video for Mentone Arts Center, enters USA Today grant competition!

PHOTO:  High School Student Taylor Theakston produced a video for the Mentone Arts and Cultural Center that’s been entered in a competition to win a $100,000 or $50,000 grant for the project! (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

MENTONE, Ala. — Since 2013, the citizens of Mentone have been working hard to build a unique location on Lookout Mountain that's solely dedicated to not only showcasing local art, but also to further cultivate local creativity and artistic expression.

The proposed, "Mentone Arts and Cultural Center" (MACC) is being funded by donations and work contributed by the citizens of Mentone, and one young lady has contributed her talents to help in a big way.

The property where the future Mentone Arts and Cultural Center will be located, on Highway 117. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

Taylor Theakston, a freshmen at Fort Payne High School, created a video to promote the planned center and help raise awareness for the cause. Click here to view the full video. While the video will help to promote the planned arts center, Taylor has entered her work in USA Today's "A Community Thrives" (ACT) grant competition!

USA Today's ACT competition selects 10 submissions from each category with the most votes , and a panel of judges select three winners from each. Categories include Art and Culture, Education, and Wellness. Taylor's submission is under the Art and Culture category. You can vote for Taylor's video by clicking here (Voting begins on Wednesday, April 12 at 10:59 am Central Time).

The arts center has raised $200,000 of it's $700,000 - $800,000 goal for the first phase of the project. If her video is selected as one of the winners, Taylor could win the project either one of three $100,000 grants, or one of nine $50,000 grants; significantly moving Mentone towards their goal.

In an interview late Friday, Theakston was asked what motivated her to get involved in the project. She explained: "When I found out it was a non-profit in an industry that I'm so passionate and involved in, I immediately said yes."

"I'm very, very thankful for an opportunity to do something like this. It is something that I'm very passionate about, and want the best for them. I want them to be able to accomplish their goals," said Theakston.

Theakston was also asked how she would feel if her submission wins and she'll be able to help move the project along.

"It would mean the world to me to give them that opportunity; knowing that I helped a project come along, and hopefully one day come true to be something spectacular that this town can have," she said.

"It's going to give a lot of people a chance to express who they are and be able to be involved with things that they love, so many artisans don't have a place to go right now," explained Theakston. "It will give everyone an opportunity to find themselves and to express themselves; a place to relax and dive into something that's so special. It's something that's really going to change how people live in this town."

Taylor also plays drums and uses her talents to make videos to help spread awareness for other causes. When asked if she planned on pursuing videography as a career, Taylor pointed out that video is just one of her passions, and she related the purpose of the arts center to her own struggle with, "finding herself."

"(The Center) is going to help people find who they are and find what they want to be successful. It's a big reason that I'm so passionate about it, is I still haven't decided what I want to do yet," said Theakston with a smile.

"I'm truly pushing as much as possible to make their dreams come true and help them anyway I can," she added.

For more information on the Mentone Arts and Cultural Center, check out their website:  or find them on at:

Mentone Cultural Center
The architect’s rendering of the planned Mentone Arts and Cultural Center. (Mentone and Arts Center)