B.B. King Museum & Delta Interpretive Center and Mississippi Center for Cultural Productions named Southern Cultural Treasures

JACKSON, MISS. – The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) and South Arts are pleased to announce the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (MCCP) of Utica, MS, and the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center of Indianola, MS, were recently named among 17 South Arts “Southern Cultural Treasures.”

“We are thrilled that two great Mississippi cultural institutions were included among this list of excellent organizations,” said Sarah Story, executive director for MAC. “They have both made important cultural contributions to our state and local communities. These organizations will be able to make even more of an impact with this financial support.”

This $6 million, four-year initiative provides critical funding and resources that lead BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) organizations to stability and success, and enhance their ability to expand their impact on the regional cultural landscape.

“It means a great deal to be considered a Southern Cultural Treasure and represent arts and culture in the state of Mississippi,” said Carlton Turner, Co-director of MCCP. “It is important that we have the time over the next three years to learn from and build with other organizations working to advance Southern Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and API creatives.”

“The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center occupies a unique role in Mississippi, said Malika Polk-Lee, executive director of the B.B. King Museum & Delta Interpretive Center. “In addition to housing world-class exhibits and films that honor the legacy of its namesake and welcoming visitors from all over the world, the museum offers arts-based programming and education opportunities for the underserved residents of Sunflower County. We are grateful to the Mississippi Arts Commission and South Arts for this funding that will be invaluable in helping us carry out our mission, which is to empower, unite and heal through music, art and education and share with the world the rich cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta.”

The program is expected to run through March 2025 and provide each organization with up to $300,000 of general operating grants distributed over three years, an additional project grant of up to $7,500, customized consultant services, networking, cohort building, and knowledge sharing.

The two Mississippi organizations are joined by 15 others throughout the nine-state region that includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. These exceptional nonprofits were chosen for their vital impact on their communities and helping to both define and preserve the uniqueness of the arts ecosystem in the region.

“South Arts is honored to recognize and support these 17 organizations as Southern Cultural Treasures,” said Susie Surkamer, South Arts’ President and CEO. “These groups push the boundaries of creative expression, anchor their local communities, and advance the arts in our nine state region. Our hope is that this initiative, with the help of these organizations, will foster a more equitable art community throughout the Southeastern region.”

Organizations throughout the nine-state region were given the opportunity to submit a letter of intent in late 2021. After review, those most closely aligned with the program goals were invited to complete a full application that went through a pair of national reviews before undergoing an interview process with South Arts’ leadership. These 17 exceptional nonprofits were chosen for their vital impact on their communities and helping to both define and preserve the uniqueness of the arts ecosystem in the region. A full list of recipients can be found on the South Arts website.

South Arts’ Southern Cultural Treasures is supported by the Ford Foundation, with additional support from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the Infusion Fund, a partnership between the City of Charlotte, Foundation For The Carolinas and generous donors to support the arts and cultural sector, and the Zeist Foundation.

Please contact South Arts if you would like more information about opportunities to match this investment in select communities.


About Mississippi Arts Commission

The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) is a state agency serving more than two million people through grants and special initiatives that enhance communities, assist artists and arts organizations, promote arts education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. MAC is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, and other private sources. For more information, visit www.arts.ms.gov.

About South Arts

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.


Hunter Braithwaite

Director, Cultural Counsel


Ivan Schustak

Director, Communications


Abby Ronner

Account Executive, Cultural Counsel