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Governor’s Arts Awards

The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented annually to outstanding writers, artists, performers, craftsmen and educators who have made significant and lasting contributions through their work as well as to corporations or organizations on the basis of their dedication to arts advancement. Previous winners include B.B. King, James “Super Chikan” Johnson, Mary Katharine Loyacono McCravey, the late Little Milton (Campbell), Dr. David Blackburn, the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, USA International Ballet Competition, William Eggleston, Bo Diddley and Charles Burnett.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2015 Governor's Arts Awards! 

Awards are made to individuals and organizations for lasting,outstanding and visionary work in the visual, literary and performing arts, arts education, community development through the arts, patronage and Mississippi folk & traditional arts, among others. (Artists do not have to reside in the state currently, but they must have significant ties to the state through some years of residency and they must be able to attend the February 2015 ceremony.)  The deadline to submit a nomination for a deserving individual or organization from your community is Friday, June 27, 2014.  2015 Nomination Form


Recipients of the 2014 Governor's Arts Awards.

Top row from left:  John Maxwell, William Baggett, Jim Weatherly, Lesley Silver

Seated: James Cotton



Former Governor's Arts Award recipients

The 2014 Ceremony

The Governor's Arts Awards were held on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:00pm in the Concert Hall of Belhaven University Center for the Arts.  

The host for the 26th annual ceremony was Sam Haskell, former Executive Vice President and Worldwide Head of Television for the William Morris Agency, who, at age 52, was named in 2007 by TV Week as one of the 25 Most Innovative and Influential People in Television.  He is the author of the autobiographical memoir with life lessons, “Promises I Made My Mother.”  Haskell serves as a Commissioner for the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Entertainment for the festivities was provided by singer/songwriter, Jimbo Mathus along with his outstanding band, The Tri-State Coalition.  Mathus, a Mississippi native, found success with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and after that returned to Mississippi to, as he put it, "remember why he loved music in the first place.” Over the last decade, he has released solo albums and collaborated with an impressive collection of musicians.  He was a catalyst for Buddy Guy's breakthrough Sweet Tea in 2001 and Guy's Grammy-winning Blues Singer album. He's featured on the North Mississippi Allstars' Electric Blue Watermelon album and received a Grammy nomination as a member of Luther Dickinson & the Sons of Mudboy for the Jim Dickinson memorial album, Onward and Upward.  Mathus also joined forces with Luther and Alvin Youngblood Hart, forming the retro-roots "supergroup" the South Memphis String Band.  Mathus recently released his third album with The Tri-State Coalition, Dark Night of the Soul.

The Awards Poster

The images featured in the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Governor’s Arts Awards posters showcase the artistic disciplines that have made a lasting impact on the artistic culture in the state.

Young dancers from around the world aspire to perform at the prestigious International Ballet Competition held in Varna, Moscow, Helsinki and Jackson. Founded by dance educator Thalia Mara, the USA International Ballet Competition transforms Mississippi’s capital city into the center of the dance world every four years. USA IBC’s rich cultural and economic contributions for more than 35 years are reflected in a collection of memorabilia—medals, programs, performance photos, the costume worn by Mississippian Kathy Thibodeaux as she won a silver medal in 1982, a snapshot of Ms. Mara, honored on stage in 2002, with long-time executive director Sue Lobrano, the flags of competing nations, Mississippi Symphony sheet music and more. The dance world returns to Jackson for the 10th USA IBC June 14-29, 2014.

The Awards


The award presented each year to the recipients was created by acclaimed Mississippi artist, Bill Dunlap. The Board of Commissioners of MAC have chosen to adopt this incredible work of art as the permanent award for the Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts in keeping with the traditions of the Academy Awards, the Emmy's and the Grammy's. 

The Sponsors

Without the support of the event sponsors, the Governor's Arts Awards would not be such a fantastic celebration! 

Premier Partners

Mississippi Public Broadcasting

Peavey Electronics

Principal Partner


Ergon, Inc.


Grand Patrons


Donna & Jim Barksdale

Mr. & Mrs. David Brevard

Chevron Products Company

Myrna Colley-Lee

Community Foundation of Greater Jackson

Jan & Lawrence Farrington

Mary & Sam Haskell

Nan & Mike Sanders

Sanderson Farms Inc.

Peggy & Don Sprabery

Trustmark National Bank

The Yates Companies, Inc.



Canizaro Cawthon Davis Architects

Dr. & Mrs. Ronald Schwartz                                        



Albert & Associates Architects

Lesly Murray & Steve Edds

The Fenelon Family

Lee & Charles Jackson           

Grace & Shinn Lee


Lisa & Billy Percy

Pinkston-Seablue, Inc.   

Carol Puckett

Marie & Brian Sanderson

Flolynn & Howard Stover        

Jay L. Wiener

Williams, Pitts, and Beard, CPA’s, PLLC