Victory for arts in Mississippi

Published 11:16 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

When the people speak loudly in a state like Mississippi voices are heard.

That’s the case with bills that emerged last week in the Mississippi Legislature that would have dissolved the Mississippi Arts Commission into the Mississippi Development Authority.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant pushed for the change.

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But many people in Oxford, and elsewhere in the state, pushed back with loud and strong voices.

The concern was that by dissolving the arts commission, so much creative programming including funds that help Oxford’s popular festivals would evaporate as well.

Members of Oxford’s arts community, and members of the arts community in Mississippi as a whole, went to work last week. Between those voices, and editorials in this and other newspapers, momentum for the plan faded.

We should also give credit to Sen. Gray Tollison of Oxford who played a key role in speaking out against the bill and squashing momentum. Tollison made his position in support of the arts in Mississippi and the Oxford community loud and clear.

Thus, the two bills that proposed dissolving the arts council died this week and it appears we are free from this threat.

Vigilance will be required, but there’s no denying this victory for Mississippi’s arts.