Endowment chairwoman reviews state of the arts in Mississippi

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Chairwoman for the National Endowment of the Arts Jane Chu launched the Tell Us Your Story project to demonstrate the importance of the arts in our lives and has been traveling across the U.S. to see how the arts are influencing their communities.

The chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts will visit arts organizations funded by the NEA and the Mississippi Arts Commission in four Mississippi cities on Monday and Tuesday.

Jane Chu, an artist and musician herself, plans to speak on how art is supporting Mississippi’s local economy as well as the national economy, reinforcing how art is energizing the state and its communities. This tour goes hand-in-hand with Chu’s initiative Creativity Connects, which examines the state of arts in the U.S. and explores how the arts connect with other industries.

While in Mississippi, Chu will visit arts organizations in the cities of Jackson, Oxford, Clarksdale and Indianola. She’ll be accompanied by Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, and other officials. The Mississippi Arts Commission currently has a $794,200 grant from the NEA.

Chu will begin her Mississippi trip by visiting the quilting group Sewing Every Wednesday in Jackson. SEW was launched with financial support from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Afterwards, Chu will tour the Mississippi Museum of Art, which received a $10,000 grant from the NEA to support an interdisciplinary symposium that will explore issues of art and the identity of the American South.

Monday evening Chu will visit the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council in Oxford and tour its arts facility, The Powerhouse. Currently, the NEA is supporting the council’s Arts Incubator project with a $10,000 grant to assist in the growth of local artists’ and entrepreneurs’ arts businesses.

In 1991, B. B. King — the inspiration for the museum – -received a National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

Tuesday, Chu will travel to Clarksdale to visit the Delta Blues Museum and to Indianola to tour the B.B. King Museum, both of which are currently supported by the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Although Pascagoula, isn’t on the tour list, the NEA recently awarded the city $45,000 to support the Pascagoula Creative Placemaking Plan and Art Affairs projects, which include plans for public art installations, a community art exhibit, workshops, cultural events and improvements to public spaces.

Mississippi is Chu’s fifth stop in 2017 as she assesses the state of the arts in the nation. Prior to Mississippi, Chu also has visited Florida, Nevada, Alabama and Massachusetts.