Progress for the arts in Pearl River County

Published 12:59 am Sunday, February 22, 2009

Today’s Progress Edition of the Picayune Item, “Pearl River County Today,” will feature five special sections key to the growth and stability of our local economy: Government and Services, Agriculture and Industry, Clubs, Education and Religion. Within these arenas, it was discovered that the arts seemed to flourish throughout Pearl River County, despite a slumping national economy.

Yes, 2008 promised to be the start of an artistic genesis with the formation of the Greater Picayune Arts Council, GPAC, and the Pearl River County Community Band. Both of these newly formed organizations complimented some of the more established arts based clubs, such as the Pearl River County Arts League and a host of other groups. Both GPAC and the PRC Community Band hope to prove that they will be important elements in the future growth of the county.

The GPAC, in its infancy in 2008, hit the ground running, establishing a temporary board, co-sponsoring two concerts with Partners for Pearl River County and introducing itself immediately to the Mississippi Arts Commission, which offers several grants to arts based groups throughout Mississippi. It also created its own unique event, Art Works, which it hopes will become an annual tradition.

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Art Works, 2008, was an arts festival that featured the best of everything the county has to offer in the way of arts, from dancers, to painters, to crafters. It was a family-friendly event, and student artists were a big part of the draw. This arts celebration was hosted at the Centraplex, or Old Mississippi Mall, GPAC’s new home. It’s goal was to show how “art works” for a community.

GPAC itself was established to be a gathering of community members with our without an artistic bent, whose common goal is more focus on the arts. It is seeking to fill the much needed void of having an arts council within the county. The seeds were planted when the City of Picayune advised that such an organization be formed under the guidance of Picayune Main Street, Inc. The arts council is first and foremost about the community.

“It’s a good tourism draw and Picayune could grow,” said Reba Beebe, Picayune Main Street manager. She is working closely with GPAC to help bridge the communication link between GPAC’s and the community’s needs.

To read more about the growth of the community as a whole, see “Pearl River County Today,” sections A-E.

To read more about GPAC, the Community Band and a host of other local clubs and organizations, see “Pearl River County Today,” section C.