The Mississippi Museum of Art develops The Gallery Garden. Courtesy of the Mississippi Museum of Art.
If you have not strolled through downtown Jackson lately, then you may be missing out on the steady transformation of historic area. The streets beam with pride as the lights from bustling and revitalized buildings illuminate the streets, many paved anew. The Mississippi Museum of Art complements the grandeur of the Capital City with a new beautification project, The Gallery Garden.
Much more than a garden, the development is a renovation of the pedestrian sidewalk that connects West Street to the museum’s main entrance, the Art Garden, and the back entrances of the Arts Center of Mississippi, the Jackson Convention Center and Thalia Mara Hall. The renovation includes art installations, improved exterior lighting and new guiding signage to help Thalia Mara Hall attendees as well as the performers and stage crews who make use of the backstage area.
The launch ceremony will take place Nov. 7 at 11 a.m. and will honor those who have helped make this event possible and who together raised $337,611 in gifts. Many hands facilitated this project, but here is some information about a few of the main contributors.
Betsy & Kane Ditto: Kane Ditto is currently the principal of State Street Group, a real estate development company, as well as several manufactured housing companies. Ditto was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives from District 66 and served from 1987 to 1989. He also served as the Mayor of Jackson from July 1989 to July 1997. His wife, Betsy Martin Ditto, is the regional development director for the George W. Bush Presidential Center and works to maintain relationships with corporations, foundations and nonprofit organizations. The power couple have four children and nine grandchildren and attend Northminster Baptist Church.
The Mississippi Arts Commission: MAC, established in 1968, is a public grants-making and service agency that provides financial and technical support for arts organizations and educational institutions throughout Mississippi. Its government support for the arts in the state of Mississippi helps include a number of residents in diverse creative experiences, highlights art’s direct involvement with economic development through collaborations, sustains credibility and responsibility, warrants honest decision-making and delivers proper management of cultural policies. Executive Director Malcolm White help fund this project through a building fund for the Arts Initiative.
The Community Foundation for Mississippi: The foundation serves donors that establish charitable giving funds with them and offer flexible, tax-efficient giving opportunities. For 25 years, they have worked to strengthen various non-profit partners and local nonprofit organizations by managing and sustaining their grants. The Community Foundation continues to support the further development and improvement of surrounding communities and have invested over $55.7 million in grants. President and CEO, Jane Alexander help fund this project through a gift from the estate of John F. and Lucy E. Shackelford.
The National Endowment for the Arts: The independent federal agency based out of Washington, D.C., established in 1965, partners with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies and various philanthropists to support art education, America’s rich cultural heritage and promote equal access to the arts in every community.
The Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St.) is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, find the museum on Facebook.