The Eudora Welty Foundation has been awarded a $225,000 Building Fund for the Arts (BFA) Grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission to assist with the construction of an Education Center. It will be built on property immediately behind the Welty House Visitor Center. The Foundation was one of 16 arts organizations in the state to receive a BFA Grant for which there were 46 applications.

The illustration above is a proposed view of the Education Center to be located behind the Welty Visitor Center, prepared by Architect Maggie Bjorgum of Belinda Stewart Architects, PA.

The Visitor Center, shown below, has ample space in the back yard for the construction of the Education Center.

Holmes S. Adams, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Welty Foundation, said that there has been a real need for a building to provide room for larger groups than can be accommodated in the Visitor Center and that have otherwise been held outside or off site. 

“The Building Fund for the Arts Grant enables us to move forward with construction of this much needed facility,” Adams added. “We are very grateful to the Mississippi Arts Commission as well as the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, and our Congressional delegation, all of which play a role in funding the Arts Commission.”

Architect Maggie Bjorgum of Belinda Stewart Architects, PA, in Eupora, MS, has developed initial architectural plans. “This firm has a sensitivity for the significance of our site, next door to the Eudora Welty House, a National Historic Landmark, as well as the historic nature of the Belhaven community in Jackson where it is located,” noted Mary Alice Welty White, secretary of the Welty Foundation Board of Directors and Eudora Welty’s niece. The construction will take approximately two years to complete.

Marie Sanderson, board chairman of the Mississippi Arts Commission, said that MAC received 64 letters of intent requesting $16.2 million. The requests of the 46 applicants approved to submit proposals totaled $10.9 million. A panel of four experts from the state’s art and economic communities ranked submissions based on artistic quality, project plan, project professionals, organizational capacity, and project impact. 

The Mississippi Legislature appropriated $3 million for the BFA program for FY2023. The 16 organizations selected for grants received a total of $2.8 million. “We see a great need for this type of financial support within our art community, and we are hopeful that the Legislature will support more funding for BFA in the future,” Sanderson added.

BFA grants support repair, renovation, expansion, or construction of arts programming facilities. Sanderson said that they are an important part of strengthening and supporting the creative economy in the state and providing citizens the opportunity to engage with Mississippi’s unique arts and cultural opportunities. 

This post is from the News archive.