By Hermine Granberry
I grew up in a family with a deep appreciation for the arts. My parents prioritized my siblings’ and my involvement in all different types of arts throughout our childhood.
My love of the arts led me to get involved with the Mississippi Presenters Network as the project coordinator for its Raise the Roof! campaign. The project seeks to create the first endowment to support physical spaces for the arts across Mississippi.
When I heard about Mississippi Presenters Network seeking a committee member to help transform the needs of small arts organizations into actionable goals, I knew I wanted to be a part of creating a better Mississippi.
The Mississippi Presenters Network is a statewide organization of 75 arts organizations that work collaboratively to increase access and support for the arts in Mississippi. The organization spent a year creating an asset map of cultural resources across Mississippi. This research revealed that many local arts organizations had to rent space to hold events, classes or programs.
There is funding for the arts for supporting programs, performances, artists, or events. The existing sources of support provide arts groups with funding to rent a space, but not to support creating a permanent space for arts in communities.
Local marketing company Lucky Elephant assisted with creating a campaign to raise awareness about the impact and value of the arts in communities across Mississippi. Lucky Elephant noted that communities with a central place for the arts benefited from the economic impact but also an enhanced sense of community.
Lucky Elephant proposed the Raise the Roof! campaign to support the arts organization in Mississippi. The campaign highlights how the arts impact Mississippi creating jobs, an economic boost to local businesses, and is the key tool in retaining residents.
These local arts organizations spend time securing locations, borrowing space, or are limited in the type of programs they can offer by the spaces they can access. It was a barrier for building arts in communities.
The Raise the Roof! campaign seeks to create an endowment fund with the CREATE Foundation that would provide grants to community organizations to support the renovation or building of art spaces in Mississippi. The goal is to raise $50,000 for the fund.
When you break it down, all we have to find are 500 Mississippians who will donate $100 to establish the endowment. How many of Mississippi’s three million residents love the arts? How many would make a one-time donation to create an endowment that would provide ongoing support to create places for the arts?
Though often at the bottom of most lists, Mississippi is second in the nation for charitable giving. In 2020, the arts added $2.1 billion to the state’s economy, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. For the organizers, this fund is more than about building places for the arts.
The arts and culture help Mississippi flourish. Every town in Mississippi has a local artist or festival that is a point of pride. The arts bring people together and build community.
To learn how your community can be part of the Raise the Roof! campaign to create spaces for the arts or to make donations and be one of the 500, visit presentmississippi.org.