Chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts Jane Chu impressed with arts scene in Oxford

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Chairwoman for the National Endowment for the Arts, Jane Chu, made a visit to Oxford and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council as part of a two-day trek through Mississippi.

YAC director Wayne Andrews led Chu through the Powerhouse Arts Community Center and they discussed some of the efforts that the organization is pursuing with the $10,000 in NEA grants they earned last month.

“We are so honored to be here,” Chu said as she walked into the Powerhouse and shook Mayor Robin Tannehill’s hand. “You’ve got something very special.”

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The $10,000 grant from the NEA renewed the YAC’s Arts Incubator Program which provides small business resources for artists.

“I love (Oxford),” Chu said. “It’s got so much history. Now what’s so great is to be able to see something that we have seen burgeoning across the nation and that is that the arts are not off by themselves in a corner. They’re not for the exclusive percent people and not others. They’re for everybody in so many different ways.”

She praised the town for “setting a good example and leveraging the arts into our everyday lives.”

“Look at this building and how it’s serving as a community center,” Chu added. “It’s all because people want to be there. I think Oxford is really recognizing that. But we also came here because of the grant. It’s exciting to see the seedling projects emerging.”

Malcolm White, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, was also in tow for the Powerhouse tour and approved of Chu’s hands-on approach of visiting every state.

“You always want your national leader to come and see the work that you do,” White said. “She represents the endowment which is our federal partner. It’s very important to us that we meet the chairperson. She’s been very attentive and they’re curious and engaged in planning this trip.”

White noted that after picking her up at 5 p.m. on Sunday evening, the trip “hasn’t stopped.” During Chu’s visit, she also traveled to Jackson, Clarksdale and Indianola.

“It’s a significant thing for us to have her come, acknowledge our work, meet our partners and care about what we’re doing,” White said. “For her, it was one of her goals three years ago when she came in to go to every state and make some sort of personal connections.”