State arts funding a boost to BLT, MSA and local artist

Published 9:11 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Brookhaven Little Theatre shared a larger slice of the Mississippi Arts Commission’s funding pie this go around as the state agency awarded $1.3 million in grants to artists and art programs across the state for fiscal year 2018.

BLT received $14,000, which is almost double the amount they were awarded for 2017, said BLT Treasurer Pat Lowery.

“It’s a reflection of their belief that we’re doing good things down here,” he said.

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Mississippi School of the Arts Foundation was awarded $4,500 to support an outreach program and artist Regina Derstine of Brookhaven was awarded a $2,000 folk art apprenticeship.

The awards designated for Lincoln County totaled $20,500.

Funds were awarded in 46 Mississippi counties, to 140 different organizations and schools and to 61 individual artists. Recipients will benefit in a number of ways, including operating support for museums and community arts centers, arts integration and guest artist presentations in schools, and continuing education and supplies for working artists.

Grant applications were reviewed by a group of panelists with artistic, managerial, educational and peer expertise. MAC’s Board of Commissioners reviewed the panelists’ recommendations before making final funding decisions.

Lowery said MAC’s experts look at the number of people an organization serves and also at its community outreach.

He said the money, which is given for operating expenses, will help BLT move toward its goal of hiring a full-time executive director. Currently, Emily Waterloo serves in that role, but with a nominal, part-time salary. Having a full-time position would provide continuity in the vision of the theatre.

“It’s an amazing organization that has operated with volunteers for 50 years,” he said.

Lowery said the grants from MAC are possible because of legislative funding, which he credits to Rep. Vince Mangold, Rep. Becky Currie and Sen. Sally Doty, all Republican legislators from Brookhaven.

“We’re grateful for their support,” he said.

BLT’s summer drama camp starts July 17 for rising first- through seventh-graders. The campers will enjoy two weeks of musical theatre training, and set and costume design as they work on a production of “Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids.” 

BLT will host its 50th season opener Aug. 12. The reveal party will be at 7:30 p.m. at The Haven.

Pat Lowery