Arts school funding must come before arts center’s

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2005

The state Senate voted last week to allow the state to issuebonds to fund $2 million for a B.B. King Museum in Indianola andanother $2 million for the Mississippi Arts and EntertainmentCenter, currently under development in Meridian.

While we can’t quibble with lawmakers’ dedication to thecelebration of the arts, we wish they were equally as dedicated tothe education of the arts.

It is beyond us how lawmakers could consider giving a combined$4 million to these projects in a year when they also haveintroduced education budget proposals that would woefully underfund- or worse yet, eliminate – the Mississippi School of the Arts herein Brookhaven.

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Arts education isinvaluable to our children and our state from both a cultural andan economic perspective.

Legendary bluesman King is no doubt an Mississippi treasure, andthe proposed Meridian center – complete with a hall of fame,museum, theater, conference center, amphitheater, artists villageand Choctaw cultural center – could certainly be a populardestination, but we must also stay mindful of the needs of thecurrent generation.

Lawmakers must get their priorities straight this year and givethe state’s arts students a fighting chance to follow in thefootsteps of the legends these projects would honor.