Delta Arts Inks
New Round of Funds
Delta Arts Alliance President Cindy Bassie signs a new grant contract with Mississippi Arts Commission.

JACKSON - Delta Arts Alliance (DAA) of Cleveland has been awarded a $17,400 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). This grant is a portion of the nearly $1.4 million in grants the Commission will award in 2018-2019 and will be used to support the operation of DAA and aid in connecting Delta communities to the arts. The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

“Arts organizations throughout the state of Mississippi play a pivotal role in sharing the power of the arts with people from all walks of life,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “The arts are for everyone, and the Mississippi Arts Commission is pleased to support arts organizations committed to growing the presence of the arts in their communities.”

Delta Arts Alliance is committed to one singular, specific mission, in its most basic measure, to connect. Every aspect of Delta Arts Alliance’s community work is focused on connecting, whether through its stalwart artist-in-residence program which provides arts education in the public schools, while connecting artist with employment opportunities; or its rapidly growing after-school program and popular summer series. All total, these sustained efforts and creative programmatic work connect arts education opportunities with over 7,000 children in one calendar year. 
The Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, serves the residents of the state by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, the Mississippi Arts Commission 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. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.

For information from the Mississippi Arts Commission, contact Anna Ehrgott, Communications Director, 601-359-6546 or
Busy week of activities all caught in this week's #PLAYBACK.

Delta Arts Alliance rocked through another week of stimulating art classes inside the Ellis featuring the work of instructors Nicole Spinks, Nathan Pietrykowski and special guest instructor Rori E. Herbison. The School of Dance completed its first week of summer dance camps under the tutelage of Danza Locke-Reifers and assistant Karagin Arbuckle, highlighted by a patio performance at Hey Joe's , as DAA ended its run as charity of the month at the local eatery. Partner site Greenville Renaissance Scholars ended its summer of programming with an incredible showcase, highlighted by Delta Arts Alliance Artists-in-Residence Chelsea Young & Mariah Hutchinson's work in songwriting and visual arts, respectively. DAA capped the week with another collaborative effort - this time with partner, Grammy Museum Mississippi and Rosedale Freedom Project at Motown Family Day. Artist-in-Residence Leah Allen guided her amazing poets through their first live performance. >>>

Playback Graphic : ALEX IRION , Delta State University Graphic Design Intern
Playback Video : KYLE RYAN , Duke University, Summer Robertson Scholar
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Allayne Thomas and I am from Raleigh, NC but my family is from Jamaica. I go to Duke University and plan to major in International Comparative Studies with a certificate in Human Rights. I’m the youngest of two sisters, and also the shortest at just 5 feet tall.

A requirement of your scholarship through the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program is to complete a Summer of Service. What were your goals and wants with your placement?
I wanted to work with a nonprofit because I am interested in working in non-profit legal service in the future and wanted the experience. I also wanted somewhere that spoke to my interests in the arts and personal development. 

How did you arrive to the decision to make Mississippi your summer placement site?
I am friends with the scholar who was placed at Delta Arts Alliance last year. We both share an interest in poetry, so I reached out to her to see how she liked her time here at DAA. She absolutely loved the time she spent here and felt she had grown tremendously as a result. I researched more about what the placement would entail and I was interested in being a part of DAA’s mission of connecting children to much needed arts education. Delta Arts Alliance offered the chance to change students educational experience. As a major advocate for change in our public school system and supporter of a well-rounded education, I was interested in working with a nonprofit that made it its mission to fill the gaps it saw in students education. Additionally, the emphasis Rori put on our mentor relationship made me believe that Cleveland would be a formative and welcoming place and I have not been disappointed.

You have a background in the arts. Tell us a little about that.
My pathway into the arts comes by way of my love for writing and poetry. I have been writing poetry since I was in elementary school and have had the fortune of joining Spoken Verb, the slam poetry team on campus. I love both written and spoken word and have been inspired by the knowledge I have gained here to push myself creatively.

Do you think that background in the arts has aided your time here with Delta Arts Alliance?
I think Delta Arts Alliance has helped expand my love and experience in the arts beyond my past interests of poetry. I have learned to appreciate the whole range of artistic pursuits, from songwriting to sculpting. Additionally, I think I have been able to utilize my writing background in energizing the social media and through the writing assignments Rori has given me.

What has been the most eye-opening part of this journey, thus far?
Watching the play Beautiful Agitators helped connect me with the impressive history of the area. Furthermore, visiting our partnership locations, such as Greenville Renaissance Scholars, has shown me just how much DAA does to keep arts education within the school building. Without DAA, a generation may go through school without having any at all. I think realizing the lack of access and opportunity to get the exposure and support for their creative pursuits is something that has stood out to me. 
Delta Arts Alliance staff take in a reading of Beautiful Agitators inside the Sanders Soundstage at the Grammy Museum Mississippi. The play was co-written by DAA Artist-in-Residence of the Year, Charles Coleman. L. to R. Katie Grace Carlini, Bookkeeper & Executive Assistant; Rae Herbison, Rori Eddie Herbison, Executive Director; Allayne Thomas and Kyle Ryan, Robertson Scholars.
What has been one of the favorite parts of your residency - this being your first time in office setting?
One of my favorite parts of the job is when everyone in the office has lunch together. Also, when Rori brings her dogs to work! <3

What are your responsibilities, as it relates to the work here at Delta Arts?
Rori has given each of us many responsibilities and projects to complete during our time here with DAA. I run the Summer Arts and Summer Dance programming, handling payment & registration, a class snack and publicity. Additionally, I have taken charge of the social media accounts and have put together a policy regarding media use. I have been developing a plan for sustainable social media use. Furthermore, I am in charge of coordinating collaborative activities, office organization, feature stories, and assisting in the creation of the electronic newsletter. 

What have you learned in the time you have been on board and what do you hope to learn the most in your time with DAA?
I’ve really learned about about taking ownership of my time and pushing myself to be creative and independent in ways I have not had to before. One thing I have realized in my time already is that the little things are just as important as our big projects and they really do make a difference in building the connection and relationship we want with the community. I hope to continue to build the connections with the community and learn how best to leave behind my mark.

Tell us next steps, dream job, life pursuits.
Being with DAA and my time here in Cleveland, being free from school, has inspired me to work on my own personal projects in addition to my work here. By the end of the summer I hope to complete a small collection of my own poetry and to have contributed to the incredible work DAA does. Lastly, I wish to continue the lovely relationships I have formed with all of my new Cleveland and Robertson friends.
In this week's #SNAPSHOT , Delta Arts Alliance Board Member, David Alford is recognized as the Volunteer of the Month for June. "David has been a true asset to the organization since Day 01 of joining the board," Executive Director Rori Eddie Herbison said. "I think 'volunteer' and 'unsung,' 'behind-the-scenes,' and 'lifesaver' are all interchangeable terms when I think of David and his contributions to DAA. There are so many things folks would never know, never see that he has done, does do; and I promise they wouldn't be done, nor get done if we didn't have him problem-solving, helping and doing it all under the radar. His spirit of giving is incredible; his generosity, inspiring. I can't think of more deserving recognition." Seen below Herbison (left) and Heather Walker, Fundraising Chairperson, (right) present Alford (center) with a certificate of achievement and a 12-pack of his favorite drink. >>>