Art Day 2022: Today is Mississippi Arts Day

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2022

In an era in which technology, mobility, and mass communication have tended to create a composite national culture, Mississippi’s enduring sense of place is rooted in the Arts. 

Mississippi has played a vital role in the flowering of Southern literature since the early 20th century.  William Faulkner’s  celebrated series of novels rank among the highest attainments in both American and world literature. Mississippi’s music includes sacred harp singing, the Mississippi Delta blues, and gave rise to pioneers of country, rockabilly and rock music. Mississippi produced lyric soprano Leontyne Price who influenced the world of opera. 

The recognition often falls on these individual creatives.  Mississippi has a long tradition of art being at the center of community. 

Folk Artists passed down traditions with this communal experience supporting outsider and self-taught artists. The innovations and work of Mississippi artists drew others to the region. Communities supported exhibits, festivals and invested in spaces from performance halls to museums. 

Associations formed to support these creative artists. The Gulf Coast Art Association, started in 1926, provided juried shows along the coast.  The Mississippi Art Association opened a gallery in 1926 later spearheading the effort to create the Mississippi Museum of Art. 

Each year arts organizations from visual, music, theater and the venues that present the arts join together to highlight the impact of the arts on Mississippi.  Declaring an annual Art Day artists of all types from across Mississippi work to raise awareness of the impact of the arts while encouraging support for the local and statewide agencies that support Mississippi Artists.

Organizers of the Arts Day wish the numbers would speak for themselves as the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector contributes $2.5 billion to Mississippi’s economy, representing 2.3% of the state’s GDP- a larger share than some other industries in the state.

This year following COVID it is important to highlight the ability of the Arts to bring communities together.  The Arts support local businesses as community members attend art receptions, theater or concerts in their local communities. 

Festivals that celebrate Mississippi culture attract tourists from around the world generating an sizable economic impact for the local and state economy. 

Finally, artists are entrepreneurs, starting a running small businesses from the visual artist to the clothing designers whose reach is no longer dependent on foot traffic but internet traffic. Working with my counterparts across the state we are inviting all Mississippians to become advocates of Mississippi Arts.

A collective of 76 arts leaders working as the Mississippi Presenters Network has organized an online campaign asking art lovers to share and tag their local arts organization, many who receive funding through the Mississippi Arts Commission.  The collective has even created an Art Basket providing one lucky advocate with t-shirts, art, and crafts from across Mississippi for sharing their love of art.

Mississippi arts presenters are asking art lovers this Wednesday to call their legislator and voice support for funding for the arts, share their love of the arts on social media, and tag social posts with #MSARTDay2022.

 

Wayne Andrews is chairman of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.