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Arts and entertainment center waiting for nonprofit status

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Aug. 21, 2003
The board of directors of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center is awaiting designation as a nonprofit corporation to which donations could be tax-deductible.
Board President Paul Ott Carruth said Wednesday that he is hoping nonprofit status will be in place by next month. Once accomplished, he said, there are people eager to contribute to the project.
Funding for the $50 million project is being sought from citizens, the state and federal grants. Creation of the center was designated by the state Legislature; it will be built at Bonita Lakes.
Plans call for a concert hall; a 5,000-seat amphitheater; an artists-in-residence village; a Choctaw Cultural Center; and an Arts and Entertainment Hall of Fame to include writers, actors, dancers, visual artists and musicians.
The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center's Hall of Fame should not be confused with the existing Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. But sometimes it is.
Fame and confusion
Carruth said he receives calls from media every time the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame holds an induction. The Musicians Hall of Fame's fourth annual induction was Aug. 8-10.
Among the inductees this year was Mississippi native Lance Bass of the band N'Sync. Bass also serves on the honorary committee of internationally known entertainers who support the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center.
Carruth added that suggestion has been made for the Musicians Hall of Fame and the Arts and Entertainment Center to join forces.
Both Jim Brewer, the Musicians Hall of Fame founder, and Malcolm White, executive director, worked with Carruth in the past to form an arts and entertainment center and hall of fame.
He added that the center originally considered starting a hall of fame exclusively for Mississippi musicians, but the idea was not practical according to a study done through the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University.
Carruth said at least 60 percent of the Arts and Entertainment Hall of Fame will be associated with the music industry.
Rich heritage
For Brewer and White, given the vast musical talent Mississippi has produced for more than 100 years, having more than one music hall of fame in the state seems logical.
Early in its formation, the center was called the Southern Arts and Entertainment Center which implied an even broader focus of Southern heritage in general.
The center's development committee, under the leadership of Carruth, changed the name last year to narrow the focus to Mississippi.
Brewer and White said the choice was made years ago to go with their hall of fame and to start educating the public about Mississippi's musical heritage.
Their group has since held music workshops and developed a public school curriculum available through the Mississippi Department of Education or from Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.
The hall of fame is a nonprofit organization.
Memorabilia displayed
Brewer said Musicians Hall of Fame items and memorabilia will be on display soon at a restaurant at the Jackson airport; he also said a new Web site is under construction.
About 75 musicians have been inducted into the hall of fame the past four years.
He added that he believes Mississippi is large enough to accommodate as many halls of fame as necessary.
Brewer said he would like to see a heritage museum on every corner in every town of the state.