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Arts Commission News

MAC to host 2009 Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts

DATE:          February 9, 2009 

CONTACT:    Susan Dobbs, MAC Public Relations Director



JACKSON The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) is delighted to host the 21st annual Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.  This exciting event spotlights Mississippi’s outstanding cultural resources and honors those who contribute to the state through their vision and creativity.  The 2009 recipients will be honored at a public ceremony at 1:00pm on Thursday, February 26, 2009 at Galloway United Methodist Church in downtown Jackson.   This year’s six awards and recipients are:

Leadership in the Arts  -

University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra

Arts in Education -       

WINGS Performing Arts Program Of the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center

Artistic Excellence in Visual Arts -

Wolfe Studios

Artistic Excellence in Music -

Cassandra Wilson

Literary Achievement -

John Grisham

Lifetime Achievement -

Andrew Bucci


            The awards are presented to individuals and organizations for outstanding work in visual, literary, and performing arts, community development through the arts, and arts patronage. (It is not required that recipients currently reside in Mississippi, but they must have significant ties to the state through some years of residency.)

The 2009 awards were designed and handcrafted by Clarksdale native James “Super Chikan” Johnson.  A true representation of Mississippi folk art, the awards are fully functional, six string cigar-box guitars.  Each of the unique guitars was hand-painted by Johnson, who will open this year’s ceremony with a brief performance on one of the guitars.

              Visual artist Bill Dunlap, recipient of a Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1991, will again serve as master of ceremonies, as he has since 1992.

              With a grant through the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Building Fund for the Arts, the historic Gilmer Ginnery in Indianola was renovated to become a flexible education, entertainment, and exhibit space for the adjoining B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.  The 2009 commemorative poster image is of the legendary B.B. King in the Ginnery at the time of the museum’s opening last year.  Young Riley B. King worked at the gin as a mechanic during the late summers of the mid 1940s. The photograph was taken by Tom Joynt and the poster was designed by Vidal Blankenstein.  The Building Fund for the Arts is funded through the Mississippi Legislature and state general obligation bonds to provide high quality facilities for arts and cultural activities.     

The Mississippi Arts Commission is a state agency, funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Wallace Foundation, Donna & Jim Barksdale, The Phil Hardin Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources.  MAC is the official grants-making and service agency for the arts in Mississippi. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.

The Governor’s Awards ceremony will be free and open to the public on Thursday, February 26th at 1:00pm at Galloway United Methodist Church in Jackson.


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