North Mississippi Vista Project places team member at YAC

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2022

by Wayne Andrews

North Mississippi Vista Project, based at the  Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, fights poverty through education The Project recently placed a team member with the Mississippi Presenters Network, based in Oxford, to focus on providing creative placemaking opportunities centered around the arts in Mississippi.

Zoe Cree Fitch was born and raised in Oxford, and is excited to return to Oxford and serve the community and surrounding counties. “This opportunity provides a chance to work with communities to develop programs that help retain creatives in Mississippi. Artists and craftspeople capture a sense of our communities. Through artists’ work our shared experiences are interpreted, traditions passed on, provide educational experiences, and support tourism. For example, the quilt trail in Union County, Rowan Oak, or blues trail both provide education and economic impact,” shared Fitch.

Fitch will be working with Mississippi Arts organization to create professional development resources to assist in retaining artists. The Mississippi Development Authority has highlighted how the loss of talent impacts local communities. Fitch will be working to develop tools to assist artists and creatives in being viewed as small businesses in communities who also contribute cultural and educational resources. The objectives of the project include: 

  1. Working with existing organizations and connecting rural communities to resources to increase professional skills, training and education of local community leaders, surveying and organizing training around needs identified by community partners, and creating opportunities for sharing between communities. 
  2. Coordinating a rural arts economic initiative that connects artists in rural and impoverished communities and investigating other community’s success stories. 
  3. Developing training and business models to foster economic opportunities in rural communities.

Fitch is an accomplished artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Mississippi in 2019 and a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Alabama in 2022 with an emphasis in painting. Fitch felt a sense of urgency to return to my birthplace in order to help continue the initiative to keep Mississippi artists in the state by providing knowledge and connecting them to resources to make this possible. “As a Mississippian I believe our culture and those involved should and can be supported and promoted. I look forward to working with the initiatives of the North Mississippi VISTA Project over the next year and the Mississippi Presenters Network.” Learn more about the Mississippi Presenters Network at presentmississippi.org

Wayne Andrews is chairman of the YAC.