Misssissippi Arts and Entertainment Center Moving Forward

The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center announced plans to move forward after a huge donation from the Phil Hardin foundation. Organizers say this center will be a venue for showcasing all that the state has to offer in arts and entertainment.

"It'll bring a lot of tourists in here not only from Mississippi, but from around the country, and we think around the world," said Tommy Dulaney, president of the Board for MAEC. "Mississippi has so much talent that has come from it. It's incredible when you compare it to other states. I don't think any state can match Mississippi."

The Hardin Foundation is donating $3 million toward the center, which is the first step in a fundraising effort for the facility.

The 58,000 square foot center, which will be built right behind this fence here, has an estimated cost of $44 million, so the fundraising is just getting started.

Chairman of the Board for the Hardin Foundation Robert Ward says they were extremely impressed with the work the center is doing, particularly in education. He says this will be an exhibit both children and adults can learn from.

"If you had been there in April to see that presentation, you would have thought it might run even more than $44 million," he said. "It is going to be a showplace not just for the state, but for the region and the country."

The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center Board hopes the Hardin Foundation's donation will inspire others.

"Other people looking at that, they see and they know the reputation of the Phil Hardin foundation, so they know if they're backing the project, it must be something real," said Dulaney.

The center is expected to be completed in 2017.