Acton takes interim MSA reins

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 3, 2009

The Mississippi School of the Arts is in another transitionphase as it awaits the Department of Education’s final decision ona new director for the local haven of art and entertainment.

Ken Acton, of Byram, a team leader for JBHM Education Group,said he’s not sure how long he’ll be over the school, but he willserve as the lead administrator until the new director or interimdirector is picked.

“I really believe in what is happening here,” he said of MSA.”This is a tremendous opportunity for the students … the arts arecritical to everyone’s education and we put it on the back burnertoo many times.”

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Acton replaces Carol Alderman, who served as interim MSA leaderfollowing Executive Director Dr. Vicki Lambert’s retirement at theend of June. Alderman left for another consulting assignment.

Acton is a Mississippi College graduate with a masters of artsfrom the University of Mississippi. He did continuing graduate workat the University of Southern Mississippi.

Acton has worked in school administration in Jackson and MadisonCounty, but was also an art teacher and a coach before getting intothe office side of the job. He stressed the need for artists notonly to beautify the world, but to attract industry to thestate.

“These kids can come and learn and work their craft at an earlyage, and that means a tremendous amount of scholarships everyyear,” he said. “In addition, we provide a workforce that will helpdraw industries, for instance that may have a need for graphicarts. It’s important that we have these people.”

Other schools are not as well equipped to nurture the needs of abudding artist, Acton said, and for that reason he believes in MSAas a positive for Mississippi.

“This is giving kids a leg up on the workforce that without thescholarship opportunities they wouldn’t get,” he said. “We’ve gottoo few art teachers and quality voice teachers, and dance isvirtually nonexistent throughout the state. And any literarytraining is generally through the English classes and not focusedon producing literary talent.”

Mississippi Department of Education Director of CommunicationsPete Smith said that there has not yet been a new director chosenfor MSA.

“We had no action on that in last month’s meeting,” he said. “Hewill serve as the lead administrator until the board can appoint aninterim director or new director, and our next meeting is August20.”