Arts Center Design Unveiled

There was a lot of pomp and circumstance for the unveiling of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, including an appearance by native son, "Elvis Presley.”

Even local officials got into the act, as supervisor Joe Norwood did his own rendition, "One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now go....go...go!"

The $87 million Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center is set to be built at Bonita Lakes.

"The architects believe we will begin work within the year about this time next year. The phase one would be completed within 2 years of that time and then phase two would be completed 2 years later" said MAEC executive director, Dr. Charlotte Tabereaux.

Officials say the project is the "shot in the arm" that the state and east Mississippi needs.

"In my opinion and I may be prejudiced as an entertainer, but I think it's the answer to Canton's Nissan. I tell you why. That's because you cannot put a dollar value on promoting the great state of Mississippi," said Paul Ott, MAEC board chairman.

Complete with an outdoor amphitheater, a performance hall, conference center, Hall of Fame building and artists-in residence colony, the MAEC will be state-of-the-art.

Once completed, the project is estimated to rake in more than $10 million in state revenue annually. Officials say it will be funded by the federal government, the state and private donations.

This is a goal which Meridian native and actress Sela Ward says should not be hard to achieve with renowned country star Faith Hill as the center's new spokeswoman.

"And trust me, when she goes to Washington and she goes to our state to help lobby for funds for this, nobody will be able to tell this woman no," said Ward, a vocal supporter of MAEC.

When it comes to donations for the effort, center officials say all are welcomed. For more information on donating call (601) 581-1550.