Inaugural Arts Week and 2024 Governor’s Arts Awards Recap

The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC), Mississippi Association of Arts Educators (MAAE), art organizations, partners, and art lovers celebrated the FIRST Arts Week February 5-9, 2024. During Arts Week, artists, arts organizations, and art lovers across the state celebrated the impact of the arts!

Governor Tate Reeves issued a proclamation in honor of Arts Week!

In addition, these cities throughout the state also declared it Arts Week in their communities:

  • Indianola
  • Hattiesburg
  • Crystal Springs
  • Tupelo
  • Oxford

On Tuesday, MAC held the annual Arts Day at the Capitol, which featured speeches from Senator Jeremy England, District 51; David Lewis, Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission; Malika Polk-Lee, Executive Director of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center; Dr Emily Mulhollan, Principal, Mannsdale Elementary School, Madison County Schools; Kit Stafford, Fine Arts & Grants Director, Tupelo Public School District.

The week wrapped with the 2024 Governor’s Arts Awards. At the end of this post, you can view photos from the 2024 Governor’s Arts Awards.

Click here to view the full gallery of photos from Arts Week/Arts Day!

Throughout the week MAAE coordianted events around Jackson. Below is a message from MAAE Director, Heather LaCoste, about Arts Week.

Mississippi Arts Week 2024 was a celebration of the immense creativity, talent, innovation, and excellence that exists within our state.  Artists, performers, teaching artists, educators, students and arts organizations journeyed to Jackson in order to take part in the festivities!    

Energized by a spirit of unity, our journey commenced under a banner of recognition as Governor Reeves issued a proclamation, making the week official.  Further afield, echoes of celebration broke forth as cities across Mississippi also paid homage to this cultural convocation.  

A hub of creativity, the Capitol brimmed over with the buzz of arts organizations which filled the Capitol each day – setting up tables and sharing their scope of work.  

In an embodiment of grace, Belhaven University opened its doors, inviting MS Arts Week into the embrace of the Bitsy Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center for the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) Breakfast of Champions.  For decades, MAAE has celebrated excellence in arts education.  The celebration has found a new home in the midst of the Mississippi Arts Week celebrations.  This breakfast was not merely a meal, but a ritual that refreshed our purpose and unity as we prepared to advocate for the arts before the legislator.  

As Belhaven University students performed throughout the morning, Mississippi’s artistic tapestry was on full display.  Each MAAE Breakfast of Champions Award Recipients stepped forward to be recognized:

  • The School District of Excellence Award |  McComb School District Fine Arts Department
  • The Thad Cochran Distinguished Educator for Visual Arts | Renna Moore- Edwards
  • The Thad Cochran Distinguished Educator Award for Music | Alanna Burns
  • The Thad Cochran Distinguished Educator Award for Theatre | John Davenport
  • The Thad Cochran Distinguished Author Award | Margaret McMullan
  • The Arts Advocacy Award | Carra Purvis
  • The Distinguished Community Arts Agency | The Meridian Symphony Association
  • The Dr. Penny Wallin Lifetime Achievement in Arts Education Award | Jennifer Mizenko
  • Cultural Preservation Award | Gloria Gipson Suggs
  • Community Impact Award | Rene Pullium
  • Arts Education Champion | Kate Cherry

I’m often amazed at how much COVID changed our world.  After many years with extremely tight protocols which kept students from performing at the Capitol, student performers finally made their way back to the Capitol this year.  Dancers, choral groups, and soloists gathered at the Capitol Green and performed pieces while students, teachers, parents, and community members sat on quilts captivated.  

Mississippi Arts Week 2024 was a testament to the power of the arts to connect, challenge, and celebrate our shared human experiences. It is so important that we take a moment to recognize those who’ve made remarkable contributions to the arts, while also pausing and recognizing the ongoing vitality and diversity of our artistic community.

Calls to Action:

Information about Arts Week can be found at

2024 Governor’s Arts Awards

The 2024 Governor’s Arts Awards were celebrated on Thursday, February 8, 2024, at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson. The day started with a trip to the Mississippi Capitol, where our recipients were recognized on the Senate floor by Senator John Horhn. It ended with a VIP Reception at the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion.

The recipients this year were:

Earl Poole Ball – Lifetime Achievement
Cedric Burnside – Excellence in Music
Brent Funderburk – Excellence in Visual Arts and Education
Peter Zapletal – Excellence in Performing Arts
100 Men Hall – Arts in Community

For more information about the awards, visit

Click here to view the program with bios and details about the awards!

Photo credit for the 2024 Governor’s Arts Awards images: Rory Doyle

Recipients and the Governor

Senate Recognition

Rehearsal and Public Reception


VIP Reception at the Governor’s Mansion