Arts Center in Next Phase

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The day started at Bonita Lakes with a tour for out of town guests, a display of paintings by Meridian painter Greg Cartmell that had been inspired by the area, and finally a visit to the actual site.

That was followed by the announcement by Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center executive director Charlotte Tabereaux of a new spokesperson for the project.

Sela Ward, who was present, has been the spokesperson but she said her other duties are taking too much of her time.

"So she got on the phone yesterday and talked to this person and this person has agreed to be the spokesperson for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center and we will have a press conference probably within a week in Nashville that Faith Hill will be our new spokesperson," said Tabereaux.

The architects for the project will be Martinez and Johnson of Washington, D.C.

"It is a trust and assignment that we gladly undertake," said Gary Martinez. "But I can guarantee you that you will have our very best efforts to make the Arts and Entertainment Center the very premier site for Mississippi culture and Mississippi arts."

Leland Speed, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, the state's economic development arm, praised the location.

"I've been out and back on this interstate all these years. I didn't know this was down there. And you can get up on your tiptoes here on the edge of it and you can see the interstate. What a 3,300 acre tract you've got here, right here, smack in nearly the middle of town like this. What a resource. This is unique," said Speed.

Speed pledged the support of his agency and the state's tourism commission in every possible way.