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MLT, Wechsler Center receive grant money

By Staff
From staff reports
Dec. 26, 2001
Nearly $80,000 in grants will help pay for a new roof and sound booth at the Meridian Little Theatre, and repairs to the Wechsler Community Arts Center.
The Meridian Little Theatre will receive $42,000 for its project, while the Wechsler Community Arts Center will receive $37,000. The grants will fund 60 percent of the projects' costs.
The money is part of a $6 million, matching-grant program the Legislature approved earlier this year. The program is administered by the Mississippi Arts Commission.
The money can be used for renovations and repairs to existing cultural centers. Grant money can fund 60 percent of the cost of a project, local funds pay the remaining 40 percent.
Tim Hedgepeth, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, praised state legislators for creating the program during a "financially challenging legislative session."
Theater needs
Jimmy Pigford, the Meridian Little Theatre's artistic director, said his organization's grant will help replace a roof that has been patched repeatedly and still leaks when it rains.
He said the grant also will help fund a sound booth on the floor at the rear of the theater, allowing sound technicians to better monitor actors during musical productions.
The new roof is expected to cost about $57,300 and the sound booth about $13,288. Work on both could take place early next year.
MLT president Greg Snowden, a state representative from Meridian, said the grant is a boost for the state's oldest and largest community theatre now in its 69th season.
Building repairs
The Wechsler Community Arts Center was built in 1894 as the state's first brick public school for black students. Today, the building is owned by the Wechsler Community Arts Foundation and is used for community arts programs.
Jessie Brewster of Meridian, president of the Wechsler Community Arts Foundation, said plans call for adding central heat and air conditioning to the building's auditorium.
Brewster said the foundation also plans to establish a museum at the Wechsler Community Arts Center to house memorabilia and artifacts from the city's predominantly black public schools.
While cost estimates for both projects were unavailable, Brewster praised the Mississippi Arts Commission for approving the grant.