The leader of the federal agency tasked with promoting the arts is in Mississippi talking about the importance of art in revitalizing communities across the state. MPB's Alexis Ware reports
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman, Jane Chu, is speaking out about art and its current role in Mississippi. The national agency awarded more than 850 thousand dollars to Mississippi organizations this year. NEA supported groups include Poetry Out Loud, a poetry contest for high school students, the Museum of Art, Delta Blues Museum and B.B. King Museum.
Chu says art involvement boosts communities.
"We've seen a community vitality get sparked as a result of arts grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, so it would not be helpful to think that the arts are only one project in one certain ways when there's surrounding in so many different ways."
14 percent of funding from the National Endowment for the Arts goes to rural areas. Chu says participating in art can improve academic achievement for children with lower socioeconomic means.
Malcolm White is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. He says it's important to expand access to art.
"A more artful, innovative, creative community is a more successful community. Whether you're seeking economic development, community development, improving your schools, trying to deal with crime rate it's really important that people be given this opportunity to bring art into their everyday life."
Chu will continue her state tour Tuesday in Clarksdale and Indianola.