Pike School of Art — Mississippi Receives $260,000 Building Fund for the Arts Grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission

McComb, Miss.— The Mississippi Arts Commission has awarded Pike School of Art — Mississippi a $260,000 grant from the State of Mississippi-funded Building Fund for the Arts (BFA) program, which has funded over 100 projects since its inception in 2001. Building Fund for the Arts grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

“We received 66 letters of intent with a total amount of $16.2 Million requested for this grant opportunity,” said Marie Sanderson, board chair of MAC. “Unfortunately, we could not award to everyone who applied. We are pleased that we can support these arts organizations in Mississippi for important projects that will impact their communities economically.” MAC received a total of 46 applications for a total of $10.9 million requested for projects. MAC has awarded a total amount of $2.8 million to 16 arts organizations in 13 counties in Mississippi for the BFA grant. 

Pike School of Art — Mississippi’s grant will be used for the renovation of the former Pike County Youth Detention Center in McComb and its conversion into a community art center. There is currently no brick-and-mortar contemporary visual arts center in Southwest Mississippi. PSA-MS will transform the former Pike County Juvenile Detention into a multi-use center including three gallery spaces to exhibit art and the cultural heritage of Southwest Mississippi, present work by PSA-MS resident artists, and host community exhibitions and workshops. 

Calvin Phelps, Pike School of Art — Mississippi founder and executive director, said, “We are thrilled and honored to have been selected by the Mississippi Arts Commission for this substantial award, and it will speed the jail-conversion project significantly, thereby allowing us to expand the arts programming we already provide to the community.” 

The Mississippi Arts Commission describes BFA’s primary goal as support for “the repair, renovation, expansion or construction of facilities that serve as sites for year-round arts programming in their communities,” adding that “MAC is focused on maximizing the impact of existing facilities through repair and expansion projects as well as increasing the number of facilities that can serve as points of public access to the arts for Mississippi residents.”

Building Fund for the Arts grants range from $25,000 to $500,000, and previous projects completed with their funding include the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, the MSU Riley Center in Meridian, and The Powerhouse Arts Center in Oxford.

The BFA award is a partial matching grant, and Pike School of Art — Mississippi must contribute $175,000, which may come from sources including government grants — excluding state funds — and private contributions. In part to manage a capital campaign, a development consultant will be hired using funding from a capacity building grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that PSA-MS received in late 2022.

PSA-MS will be working with LOT/EK, a unique and award-winning design studio that makes sustainable and soulful architecture through the transformation of industrial and infrastructural objects. LOT/EK are currently lead architects for The Black School, an experimental art school teaching radical Black history, located in New Orleans. Working with an architect studio of this prominence adds a great amount of national attention to the project. As the Ohr-O’Keefe has become known for its Frank Gehry designed campus, Pike School of Art — Mississippi will be known for its unconventional space designed by LOT/EK. 

A panelist of four experts within the art and economic community ranked the BFA grant submissions based on artistic quality, project plan, project professionals, organizational capacity, and project impact. The BFA program is an important part of enhancing and supporting the creative economy in Mississippi, strengthening organizational capacity, and providing opportunities for citizens to learn from and engage with Mississippi’s unique arts and cultural opportunities.

“We see a great need for this type of financial support within our art community,” said Marie Sanderson. “We are hopeful that the Mississippi legislature will support more funding for the Building Fund for the Arts in the future.” For more information about the BFA grant and other grant opportunities through the Mississippi Arts Commission, visit arts.ms.gov. 

About Pike School of Art – Mississippi 

The mission of Pike School of Art — Mississippi is to enrich and empower a thriving community built by artists and allies in Southwest Mississippi. Pike School of Art — Mississippi (PSA-MS) values collaboration, understanding, respect, inclusivity, equity, and unconventional spaces. As southwest Mississippi’s only contemporary art center, PSA-MS offers free community programming and exhibitions; artist residencies; workshops and talks; and space for art-making and discursive research. We encourage artwork and curatorial or writing projects that create articulations about the Deep South, including Mississippi and Louisiana’s history of the colonization of indigenous people. Projects about the ongoing African-American struggle to achieve full participation in American society are especially welcome. 

About the Mississippi Arts Commission

The Mississippi Arts Commission is a state agency serving more than two million people through grants and special initiatives that enhance communities, assist artists and arts organizations, promote arts education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. MAC is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation for Mississippi, and other private sources. 

For information about the Mississippi Arts Commission, please contact Ellie Banks, Communications Director, 601-359-6546 or ebanks@arts.ms.gov. 


Pike School of Art - Mississippi is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Pike School of Art - Mississippi must be made payable to “Pike School of Art - Mississippi” and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. TAX ID #47-3838208

PSA-MS is a proud member of:


Proud Member of the Society for Nonprofits

Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy