Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 at 10:09am - Personal
Today I´d like to share a post with you from a dear friend who lives in the Mississippi Delta, Will Jacks. For those of you not familiar with The Delta, it is home to so much rich art and culture. For a place I would have never imagined I´d ever visit, after my first visit last summer, I was compelled to return twice more in less than a year. Its a powerful area that gives a vision in to where this country has come from. Creativity flows from everywhere in the Delta, and is essential to many of the lower income families living there. Please read Will´s words below, and if you care about making sure that creativity continues to be taught in the schools to our youth, please help in any way you can, even if just going and voting one time. Every vote counts. Thank you.
Hi all -- Will Jacks here.
I need your votes. Not for me, but for an arts non-profit that I am a part of.
The Delta Arts Alliance is a non-profit organization based out of my hometown (Cleveland, MS). This organization has slowly grown from an idea of a handful of folks 12 years ago to the point where we now provide free arts education to nearly 3000 underprivileged children in our region. Our state no longer offers arts education in our public schools. In the Mississippi Delta, we are the group that has taken on the task of insuring those classes have remained in our schools.
We employ 25 artists in residence. We also offer after school programs, field trips, and one-on-one mentoring to children interested in exploring the arts a bit deeper. We are in the final stages of renovating an old theater that was falling down 10 years ago. It houses a gallery and meeting space, a workshop area, and a recently completed outdoor performing area for musicians. Soon it will also have the theater and stage ready for community performances as well as other arts-based events.
We are also very close to establishing a place where working artists can live and practice their craft. It´s a beautiful old home that we hope to transform into studio spaces and living quarters for artists. We are so close to doing this I can taste it. We´ll be able to provide grants so that artists can come to the area and focus solely on their craft. We´ll be able to house artists as they pass through the area. We´ll have the tools needed for them to practice their craft. We´ll help them find ways to support themselves financially from their craft, and give them an outlet to do so.
The problem is, our region is broke. Broke ass broke. And we have been for a long, long time. The median income for the entire region is barely $15k a year. In some of the towns we serve it´s only a hair above $6k.
There is only so much corporate and private funding we are able to raise. And we need more. So much more. For many of these children, we are the only sign that their lives can be more than the poverty that surrounds them.
We don´t just provide arts education. We provide hope. And opportunity. And friendships. And -- at the risk of sounding a bit Hallmark-ee -- love.
The good news is that the Delta Arts Alliance is a finalist for the Foundation of the Mid-South Do-Gooders award. This is a grant that could provide as much as $50k in operating expenses for us. This would be enough for us to run the organization for two years, whether no other income came in or not. That would be HUGE.
But it´s a damn popularity contest (a debate for another time) -- you vote on the web for the organization you feel is most deserving. And everyone can vote as many times as they wish. You just can´t vote more than once every five minutes. So the potential is there for one person to cast 12 votes in an hour! As much as I hate this structure, it is the one in place, and we have to find a way to succeed within it.
So . . . .
Will you guys help me? We´re currently in second place. The voting ends October 29. I cannot begin to tell you what receiving this grant would mean to our community. To our region. To the artists that live and visit this area.
We desperately need this grant to insure that our program can continue to grow and touch as many lives as possible.
As humbly as I possibly can do on an internet forum where you guys can´t see the emotion that flows as I type this, I´m begging for your help. I am hoping my words will appeal to all artists. To all of you who cherish the creative spirit and understand the importance of nourishing it. I am asking you to not only visit the links below to find out a bit more about our tiny but passionate group; to not only vote as much as you possibly can for the Delta Arts Alliance at the Mid-South web site; but to share my plea with as many folks as you can.
All you have to do is click the link below and vote for the Delta Arts Alliance in Cleveland, Mississippi. And you can do it as many times as you´d like And then, maybe encourage your friends to do so?
Thank you all for taking the time to read this and for taking the time to help out.