The Delta Center represents Delta State at National Endowment for the Arts convening

Dr. Rolando Herts with Susie Surkamer, Executive Director of South Arts, and Malcolm White, Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, at "The Future of Arts and Creativity" convening in Washington, DC.

Dr. Rolando Herts with Susie Surkamer, Executive Director of South Arts, and Malcolm White, Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, at "The Future of Arts and Creativity" convening in Washington, DC.

By special invitation, Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State, recently attended “In Pursuit of the Creative Life: The Future of Arts and Creativity in America.” The event was hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Over 200 artists, industry leaders, educators, scientists, and civic leaders from across the country attended the day-long convening at The Kennedy Center. Participants developed ideas and strategies to enhance America’s creative infrastructure for the future toward making the arts and creative opportunities more accessible to all Americans.

“This event provided opportunities for interdisciplinary idea exchanges in strategic issue areas like economics, technology, and cultivating creative talent,” said Herts. “Our discussions will enhance The Delta Center’s community-engaged programs like the International Delta Blues Project and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area that connect arts, culture, the creative economy, and people in our region.”

The convening featured keynote speaker Questlove, GRAMMY Award-winning founding member of The Roots and musical director for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” in a moderated discussion with National Public Radio media critic, Eric Deggans. Facilitated working group discussions were framed by expert panel sessions on how to help creative people and communities thrive now and in the future.

Support for the event was provided by the Ford Foundation, Heinz Endowments, The Henry Luce Foundation, McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation.

Travel supplements for invited entities like The Delta Center were provided by South Arts. South Arts is a nine-state regional arts organization based in Atlanta that provides grants, programs and services to artists and arts organizations in the southern United States.

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Cast of Blues

Cast of Blues

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson preserves the legacy of Blues artists in a unique way - life-casts from paster. Her work is on display at the Delta Center gallery located in the lobby of Ewing Hall at Delta State. Find out more here.

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Russian visitors view Blues Mask Collection

Pictured here is Tricia Walker the director of the Delta Music Institute with twelve visitors from Perm University in Perm, Russia. They traveled to the Delta as a part of a U.S.- Russia- Peer Dialogue Program. They are shown here visiting the renowned Blues Mask Collection in the Ewing Building Lobby on the campus of Delta State University.

The grant is through the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program and is titled “Rivers of Music — Rivers of Culture.” Delta State will use the opportunity to build on existing partnerships with Perm State University, located on the banks of the Kama River in Perm, Russia.

To help foster greater contacts between Americans and Russians, the State Department launched the program in 2013. Grants up to $100,000 are provided to support collaboration, meetings, virtual interactions, exchanges and internships between American and Russian organizations.

The program will utilize music as the universal language, allowing students to explore the cultures, histories and heritages of the two countries.

There are three components specific to the Rivers of Music — Rivers of Culture: 1) Mississippi Delta Immersion Experience, in which faculty and students from Perm State will travel to Delta State in October to participate in the International Conference on the Blues, as well as other Bridging the Blues events; 2) Telebridge Project-Music of Two Rivers, a series of webinars held in the spring semester held for both universities; and 3) Permski Krai Immersion Experience, in which faculty and students from Delta State will travel to Perm in June 2015 to participate in their festival season and provide a mini summer Delta Music Institute camp experience to Perm students.

Delta State President William N. LaForge first became affiliated with Perm State as a visiting professor in 2008. He returned in 2010 as a Fulbright Fellow and has continued to network with Perm colleagues since taking office at Delta State in 2013.

“This grant and the opportunities for our students and faculty are great examples of how we can foster excellent academic exchanges with foreign university partners,” said LaForge. “It will allow students at both universities — 7,000 miles apart — to participate in common theme programming.

“This is a wonderful program that supports our international exchange program goals.”

Additional goals of the partnership include: develop and launch a lifelong learning web-based education course using the music of the American South and the Perm region for replication and dissemination among American and Russian universities and communities; promote future exchanges between the two universities; and facilitate improved peer-to-peer understanding of the two cultures.

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