Saturday, February 4, 2023

Two Mississippi Artists Make Donations for Art Spaces Fund

The Raise the Roof! Campaign is about creating more art spaces like Oxford’s Powerhouse. File photo

Two Mississippi artists made an anonymous donation in the hopes of inspiring donations to support places for the Arts in Mississippi.

Now, through the end of the year, two Mississippi artists are matching gifts made to the Raise the Roof! Fund, a project of the Mississippi Presenters Network.

During the past year, a collective of arts organizations across the state held a series of meetings. This included arts organizations in Starkville, Tupelo, Cleveland, Oxford, Greenville and Hancock County.

The goal of the meetings was to discuss how small community organizations working together could strengthen their individual organization’s ability to serve their communities – and make the arts more accessible across Mississippi.

The network of arts leaders recognized that their ability to grow and support their local community was dependent on strong arts organizations across Mississippi. The Arts drive tourism supporting local communities by highlighting local artists, culture and places. The Arts organization defined a collective goal: creating a fund to support art spaces in Mississippi.

There are annual grants by private foundations, the State Arts Commission, and even regional arts organizations to bring artists and support performances. Yet, there is no fund for art spaces.

On the community level, it is hard to balance raising funds for a long-term project like a building or equipment when the community is looking at the impact the next festival or event will provide. This state-wide collection of arts groups recognized that creating a foundation would offer long-term support.

A thriving theatre in Starkville could be the model for one in Fulton. A Community Art Center in Oxford could provide the model for Clarksdale. A fund that annually provided grants to support art spaces would encourage communities to invest in the arts.

A goal of finding 500 donors to give $100 in a state-wide fundraising effort was set by this collection of community arts organizations under Raise the Roof! Campaign. These 500 donations would be enough to establish an annual fund through a local community foundation that would invest the funds with the income providing annual grants to art spaces in large and small communities in Mississippi.

The idea of creating opportunities for communities of all sizes to have access to funds to define an art space interested two Mississippi artists.

They paid the offices of the Mississippi Presenters Network a surprise visit offering to match donations made to the campaign by Dec 31, 2022.

“This challenge makes it possible not only for us to reach our goal quicker – but it also means if we do secure 500 donations of $100 we could double our goal,” said Zoe Fitch, coordinator of Raise the Roof! Project.

Donations dated by Dec 31 can be mailed to Raise the Roof c/o MSPN at P.O Box Oxford, MS 38655 or donations can be made online at presentmissisippi.org.


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