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Lawmakers Lobbied for Arts

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Faith Hill conducted a news conference Monday before taking the message of funding for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center to state lawmakers.

Hill agreed to be the honorary chairperson of the center, slated to be built in Meridian at Bonita Lakes Park, leading a long list of Mississippi stars.

"Mississippi deserves this," said Hill. "We deserve to be proud of where we came from."

The MAEC, which includes a concert hall, hall of fame, amphitheatre, Choctaw cultural center, and archives, is projected to cost at least $50 million to build.

Hill was accompanied by the MAEC's president, entertainer Paul Ott.

"There will have to be money to maintain it," said Ott, but pointed to hall of fame inductions likely to be twice a year that would draw Academy Award type publicity.

Ott said he believes the center will generate money, but also said museums, for instance, seldom sustain themselves totally.

Hill's involvement is expected to be nothing but a boost for the project.

During a 10-year music career, Hill has sold nearly 30 million records worldwide and had 13 number one singles. Officials say she has the clout to draw a lot attention to the arts center.

But the issue comes to lawmakers at a time when money for much more immediate needs seems paramount.

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