New Media Arts program affects other discipline

Published 10:45 am Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mississippi School of the Arts is leading the charge statewide for building a new program that should boost enrollment at the school.

The new Media Arts program will be offered at MSA in the fall of 2016, and Executive Director Suzanne Hirsch said the program will benefit other departments as well.

“I came to the conclusion that we really didn’t want to diminish the integrity of our audition process,” Hirsch said at a Servitium Club meeting Wednesday. “We didn’t want to accept students just for the sake of having numbers. We want it to continue to have that threshold, to be able to meet that bar, and so we said, ‘We’ll need another program.'”

Suzanne Hirsch discusses the new Media Arts program at Mississippi School of the Arts at the Servitium Club Wednesday.

Suzanne Hirsch discusses the new Media Arts program at Mississippi School of the Arts at the Servitium Club Wednesday.

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“Visual is looking at how to expand their digital arts program,” she said. “Theater is looking at how to expand their acting for film. Literary Arts is looking at screenwriting in addition to playwriting. So all of our departments are growing. It’s causing this stir at MSA that we haven’t had in a few years,” she said.

In addition to the new Media Arts program, MSA is also getting a new principal, Debra Price, and Hirsch hopes to implement a guest artist program at  Elizabeth Cottage.

“I submitted a grant last week so that hopefully we can get the second floor of Elizabeth Cottage finished,” Hirsch said. “Because that will be, I think, the crown jewel for our school.”

The guest artist program would invite artists to live in Elizabeth Cottage for a few months while creating works of art and teaching. Hirsch said she hopes both programs will bring positive recognition to the state.

“We all know that Mississippi is known for the artistic talent that comes out of the state,” Hirsch said. “And to now have a place to nurture it earlier – I can’t wait to see what 20 or 30 years down the road is going to be. If the film industry continues to come here, people are going to continue to see Mississippi in a bigger and better way, and I think anything we can do to promote our state in a positive light is definitely welcome.”

Along with plans for the future, Hirsch also spoke about MSA’s recent successes. Last year, MSA implemented a Senior Seminar in which seniors are engaged with mock interviews, and also prepared for the ACT and taught how to write a resume.

“We watched a class of 55 students get $6.5 million in scholarship offers last year. With the year before, we had $4.5 million in scholarship offers with 62 students. So, by implementing that Senior Seminar, which is the only thing different, a class of seven kids less got two more million than the year before. It tells you that the kids just need the information,” Hirsch said.

Hirsch said she hopes to work with administrators to help implement similar programs in other schools.