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The Greater Jackson Arts Council announces a $250,000 grant award from the Community Foundation for Mississippi to jump start arts center renovations that will include permanent space dedications to former First Lady of Mississippi Pat Fordice and former Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr.

JACKSON, MS – The Greater Jackson Arts Council (GJAC) is excited to announce a $250,000 grant from the John F. & Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund through the Community Foundation for Mississippi. This award is earmarked for renovations to the Arts Center of Mississippi and will include permanent public spaces honoring former First Lady of Mississippi Pat Fordice (1935-2007) and Jackson’s first African American Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr.

The project’s fundraising campaign is a volunteer effort under the banner Friends of the Arts Center, a committee led by co-chairs Jennifer Hall and Otha Burton, two community stalwarts with close ties to Fordice and Johnson, respectively.

“At a time when many people across the country are dividing themselves along racial, religious and cultural lines, the Arts Center of Mississippi is doing precisely the opposite,” said Jennifer Hall, Friends of the Arts Center Steering Committee Co-Chair. “All those lines are blurred here. There’s no polarization. People come together for a common purpose. And those are the values Pat Fordice brought to her work all around the state.”

Dan Fordice spoke on his late mother’s behalf at a SRO press conference announcing the future dedicated space in her honor and was momentarily overcome with emotion as he reflected on the legacy–and poignant absence–of the regal First Lady known to her family as simply, “Gran.”

Current Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba spoke with real admiration of Harvey Johnson, Jr, not only Jackson’s first African American Mayor upon his first election in 1997 but with three full terms on his resume, the longest-serving leader under the mayor-council form of government.

Johnson Jr. himself was in attendance and made a point to underscore the diversity represented in the arts center. Ten arts organizations are housed there, including the USA International Ballet Competition and the International Museum of Muslim Cultures. Additionally, Johnson Jr. is pleased to see the center getting deserved enhancements as it’s part of a high traffic quadrant that includes Thalia Mara Hall, Mississippi Museum of Art and Jackson Convention Complex, all fully modernized facilities.

Architect Chris Myers of CDFL led the design team on the renovation plans, which includes upgrades of all interior systems in the public spaces–ceiling, flooring, lighting–as well as a restoration of the staircase back to its original 1970s floating design.

The launch of this new upgrade initiative came with the announcement of a new organization joining the arts center cultural family. Beginning in early 2019, the Millsaps College Theatre Department, under the direction of Peter Freidrich, will be the official company in residence in one of the dedicated second floor gallery spaces.

“It’s an exciting time for the arts center,” said Janet Scott, GJAC Executive Director. “The contribution from the Community Foundation for Mississippi has been a real juggernaut. Our volunteers are ready to raise the rest of the dollars necessary to make everything happen, andI know the community is going to support this important cause.”

GJAC’s mission is to value diversity by increasing cultural access and opportunities through grant offerings, special events, venue management and arts marketing. Established in 1979, the agency is funded annually by the City of Jackson, Visit Jackson, Mississippi Arts Commission, Hinds County Board of Supervisors, as well as corporate partners and individual donors. Visit GJAC online at

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Contact Info:
Name: Jon Salem
Email: Send Email
Organization: Greater Jackson Arts Council
Address: 201 East Pascagoula Street Suite 103, Jackson, MS 39201, United States
Phone: +1-601-942-3934

Source: PressCable

Release ID: 454009