Letter to Legislators 2020
Arts education has tremendous impact: as a core competency skill, it builds creative, well-rounded
problem solvers. The arts as an industry promotes economic growth by sustaining Mississippi’s
tremendous, diverse cultural heritage, while also making Mississippi a great place to live. Without a
vibrant arts and culture, Mississippi risks losing both people and economic impact when those folks
spend their money elsewhere.
This is why the Starkville Area Arts Council (SAAC) is extremely grateful for funding it receives from
taxpayer sources, including the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Mississippi Development
Authority. The support of these agencies through legislative and policy efforts does not go unnoticed.
The Mississippi Arts Commission provides critical operating funds that support our Art Education and
Outreach Initiatives. One-third of Oktibbeha County lives in poverty, which means access to
educational resources becomes vital. Here are a few selected initiatives supported by MAC funding:
The Mississippi Development Authority supports tourism in several ways, including Visit Mississippi grants to promote arts-tourism events like Cotton District Arts Festival and Forks & Corks. CDAF is a free public event that offers music, local food, and booths for artists to sell their work. In April 2018, CDAF (on Super Bulldog Weekend) drew an estimated 50,000 people. The Festival generated gross sales of $197,207 and sales tax revenue of $14,178. The total estimated financial impact in GTR (hotels, restaurants, and other shopping) is $3 million. Funding that defrays advertising expenses is critical support that helps SAAC keep costs low while promoting Mississippi.
What would happen if the arts went dark? What would happen if our choirs stopped singing, our bands stopped playing, our painters stopped painting, dancers stopped dancing, craftsmen stopped making.... what would happen if our state, our cities, and our communities offered nothing for people to do after work?
It's simple: they would leave. A steady drain of talent, energy, and human resources would eviscerate our economy. We saw this happen once, when Mississippi's $100 million film industry evaporated within three years after provisions of the film incentive changed. We can't afford those losses again: thank you for last year's efforts to reinstate those provisions, and thank you for working to keep talent here. As long as the arts remain alive and strong in Mississippi, so does Mississippi.
Thank you for your service and support of the arts, the Mississippi Arts Commission, Mississippi Development Authority, and other programs across the state.
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