Art Day 2022: Today is Mississippi Arts Day – The Oxford Eagle

At a time when 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 flourishing of Southern literature since the turn of the 20th century. William Faulkner’s famous series of novels ranks among the greatest achievements of American and world literature. Mississippi music includes sacred harp singing, Mississippi Delta blues, and gave birth to the pioneers of country, rockabilly, and rock music. Mississippi produced lyric soprano Leontyne Price who influenced the world of opera.

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

Folk artists passed on traditions with this community experience by supporting foreign and self-taught artists. The innovations and work of Mississippi artists drew others to the area. Communities have supported exhibitions, festivals and invested in spaces ranging from performance halls to museums.

Associations are formed to support these creators. The Gulf Coast Art Association, established in 1926, held juried exhibitions along the coast. The Mississippi Art Association opened a gallery in 1926, later leading the effort to create the Mississippi Museum of Art.

Each year, arts organizations in the visual, music, theater, and venues that present the arts come together to highlight the impact of the arts on Mississippi. By declaring an annual Art Day, artists of all types across Mississippi work to raise awareness of the impact of the arts while encouraging support for local and national agencies that support Mississippi artists.

Arts Day organizers want the numbers to speak for themselves, as the US Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector contributes $2.5 billion to the Mississippi’s economy, which accounts for 2.3 percent of the state’s GDP, a larger share than some of the state’s other industries.

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

Festivals that celebrate Mississippi culture attract tourists from around the world, generating tremendous economic impact for the local and national economy.

Finally, artists are entrepreneurs, starting a small business on the run, from visual artist to clothing designers, whose reach no longer depends on foot traffic but on internet traffic. Together with my counterparts across the state, we invite all Mississippians to become Mississippi Arts Advocates.

A collective of 76 arts leaders working within the Mississippi Presenters Network organized an online campaign asking art lovers to share and tag their local arts organization, many of which receive funding through Mississippi Arts Commission. The collective even created an art basket offering one lucky advocate t-shirts, arts and crafts from all over Mississippi to share their love of art.

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

Wayne Andrews is Chairman of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.

About Edward Weddle

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