State

South Mississippians unite to protect the arts in response to bill

The Mississippi Arts Commission is funding a tour of the work of the San Francisco dance company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, set to perform in the Delta this week.
The Mississippi Arts Commission is funding a tour of the work of the San Francisco dance company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, set to perform in the Delta this week.

One state legislator has already received 1,700 emails in protest of a Senate bill to abolish the Mississippi Arts Commission, appoint a new committee and put MAC under the Mississippi Development Authority and the governor.

The chairperson for MAC, the Coast’s Peggy Sprabery, said she was shocked and disappointed by the proposal, but the arts community has responded.

She said thousands of emails are going out to legislators.

Sprabery said she believes “these legislators truly care and want what the people of Mississippi want.”

Mississippi has so many amazing and well-known artists. ... To abolish the MAC and make it political, is just not right.

Peggy Sprabery, chairperson for the Mississippi Arts Commission

“I feel they are listening to us, so far,” she said.

Sprabery said the move would cripple the efforts of local artists and arts organizations all over the state. MAC has a budget of $1.7 million and distributes thousands in grants to the arts each year.

“More important, the grant process would turn into a political nightmare, instead of the apolitical and transparent process that exists right now,” she said. “And personally, I don’t think that politics and arts go together.”

“Mississippi has so many amazing and well-known artists in every realm of the arts,” she said. “To abolish the MAC and make it political, is just not right.”

She said that if the bill doesn’t get out of the Senate committee on Tuesday, “then I think we’re OK,” but at this point she can’t gauge it one way or the other.

“Artists and arts organizations are contacting their legislators,” she said. “And I say, ‘Power to the people.’”

“Time is of the essence.”

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