Arts leader touts importance of MSA

Published 7:50 pm Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Mississippi School of the Arts is the flagship institutionfor the advancement of arts in Southwest Mississippi, and thechances of it moving out of Brookhaven in 2010 are unlikely, thestate’s arts chief said Wednesday.

Mississippi Arts Commission Executive Director Malcolm White sharedhis opinion on the legislative attempt to move MSA to Columbus as acost-saving measure Wednesday night after addressing arts studentson careers in their field. He did not weigh in on the Brookhavenvs. Columbus debate surrounding the effort, but said the school’ssuccess is “unquestionable.”

“I would never advocate to disrupt its momentum,” White said. “I donot believe it will be moved this year, and with every year thatpasses, it becomes more and more difficult to move and will makeless and less sense to do so.”

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White said Southwest Mississippi has long been underserved in termsof artistic and cultural funding, calling the region “one of thoseplaces where more work needs to be done.” Legislative debate overfunding and location notwithstanding, the larger picture behind MSAis each region of the state having an arts presence it can be proudof, he said.

“With the Haven theatre and the school of the arts, it gives us anartistic footprint we’ve never had here before,” White said.

Though MAC does not fund MSA, the possibility for cooperationbetween those two and many other agencies will exists in a fewmonths’ time, White said.

The arts commission’s ability to help advance art around the statehas been weakened by poor economic conditions and the state’srefusal to allow new bonds, but MAC is preparing a new round of itsBuilding Fund for the Arts project.

White said money for BFA is being reallocated from projects thecommission funded in recent years that never got off the ground.BFA was begun in 2001, and was utilized by Brookhaven LittleTheatre to secure funding for the ongoing renovation of theHaven.

“We have gone out and recaptured all the money from the beginningof this program and have a new round of funding no one expected,”he said.