Arts school board concentrates on private fund-raising needs

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 14, 2002

Private fund-raising and other activities to assist in thedevelopment of the Mississippi School of the Arts are showingprogress, but more work is needed, school officials said.

The Mississippi School of the Arts Foundation Board of Directorsheld its second meeting Wednesday at Bank of Brookhaven. Thefoundation has received its 501 c-3 tax exempt status, which meanscontributions to the foundation are tax deductible.

Foundation board chairman Bill Sones said contributions arecoming in pretty well. He did not want to discuss specifics, butSones indicated foundation members would like to tap in topotentially large funding sources who have ties to the state or aninterest in arts education.

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“We’re early in that ball game. We have some significantcontacts to make,” Sones said.

Along those lines, Sones also mentioned that the foundation islooking at the creation of a Board of Regents. The board would bemade up of noteworthy Mississippians and others who, while they maynot have time to attend board meetings, could be of great help infund-raising efforts.

Foundation officials are also in the process of planning a largemembership drive in the near future.

Directors approved expanding the foundation board to 30 membersfrom the current 15, most of whom are from the Brookhaven area.Since the school will attract students from across the state,foundation officials would like to have other areasrepresented.

“We’re looking to build a real strong statewide board,” Sonessaid.

The foundation board also received a legislative update from MSAExecutive Director Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer. Operational funds to hirestaff and address other issues have been the focus lately as theschool prepares to open in the fall of 2003.

“We’ve been told by our legislative leadership that things lookgood,” Bodenhamer said.

Citing conversations with lawmakers, Bodenhamer said theleadership is pleased with donations and in-kind contributions.They emphasized that additional private fund-raising is needed, shesaid.

Bodenhamer said legislators were very pleased with the City ofBrookhaven’s contributions to the arts school effort. With theestimated value of the Whitworth College campus and buildings, plusrevenue from a city bond issue and a Housing and Urban Developmentgrant for water system improvements, the city has contributed over$21 million to the project, she said.

State lawmakers will see the school plans first hand Thursday,Feb. 21. School officials are bringing legislators to Brookhavenfor an informative visit and for a reception to thank them fortheir support.