As Arts-Based Community Development Director, Leslie Barker manages community development grant programs and oversees special initiatives related to community arts. Barker previously served as director of outreach and education at Theatre Memphis, where she focused on using the power of theatre and story to engage the surrounding community. Her work there involved partnering with community organizations, grant writing as well as creating and implementing projects. Barker comes to MAC with a background in community engagement through the arts, non-profit management, experience directing plays and performances as well as teaching at the high school and college level.

A native of Clinton, Miss., Barker earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre at William Carey College in Hattiesburg and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree in directing from the University of Memphis. She began her new role with MAC on July 8, 2019.

Program Area Information
The Arts-Based Community Development (ABCD) program supports arts organizations and programming at the local level to ensure residents in communities throughout Mississippi have access to high-quality arts programs. Because the arts can be a highly effective tool for social and economic improvement, the Commission makes funds available to communities through the ABCD grants program.