The Mississippi Arts Commission has awarded a $14,440 project grant to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College fine arts instructors Sandra Cassibry, Brandon Ring, Aaron Mann and Britney Patten for the Arts-in-Motion collaborative project. Project partners include MGCCC’s Perkinston Campus Fine Arts Department, Perkinston Elementary, Stone County Arts Council and The Yellow Brick Project. The grant is provided in part through the National Endowment for the Arts.
Project goals include strengthening MGCCC’s art-based programs, specifically music, through the partnership and programming with local artists; to enhance and utilize local art resources, such as The Community Arts Center, MGCCC Fine Arts Department, the Yellow Brick Project and The Arts Trail more effectively; and to demonstrate the importance and involve students (elementary school, college and community) in a quality arts programming with local artists.
“Presently, Perkinston Elementary School does not offer music or arts classes,” said Sandra Cassibry, visual arts instructor at MGCCC’s Perkinston Campus. “They do not have a certified arts specialist in their school. These students are our future artists and patrons. Without instruction, how can they appreciate or value the importance of art and artists?”
Cassibry said that a discussion between school administration and the college’s Fine Arts Department started several months ago, leading to the grant proposal. “The solution to the school’s problem is really just a block away,” she said. “MGCCC, the Stone County Arts Council (SCAC) and Community Arts Center are located within walking distance of the elementary school. MGCCC has a strong fine arts program, and SCAC has received state/national recognition for visual arts through The Mural Project, storytelling with The Telling Trees and arts integration with the “A to Z” children’s books. There have been various successful visual arts and theatre/storytelling projects implemented in the community. Now, we would like to expand our community art program offerings to include music instruction and expand the resources already available to school children.”
Brandon Ring, Fine Arts Department chair and music instructor at the Perkinston Campus, said the funding will allow them to expand the arts programming and offer music lessons in the Community Arts Center. Additionally, the Arts Trail will provide safe access to the college and the Community Arts Center and provide a space for outdoor lessons, events and/or performances for students at Perkinston Elementary. The Perkinston Campus Fine Arts Auditorium will also provide for larger performances at the end of fall and spring semesters. “Our hope is that these performances will help generate donations and revenue that would help sustain future artists-in-residency programs, scholarships and arts programming,” he said. “Funding would also be utilized to help with cost of music, art supplies, materials, costumes, travel, professional development and advertising of events. Purchases of items in local businesses would help promote a creative culture and economy.”
Ring added that arts are an essential part of education and the community. “This project will help our community create an awareness of the arts, strengthen arts partnerships, emphasize the importance of music and utilize our resources more effectively,” he said. “It will showcase our future artists, the importance of arts education and our existing community arts assets. We hope that one day we will be recognized as an arts destination, an epicenter of arts celebrating this place that we call home.”