The chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Maria Rosario Jackson, will visit Arkansas today and Friday, joining the Mid-America Arts Alliance in celebration of its 50th anniversary as well as visiting local arts organizations, according to a news release.
Based out of Washington D.C., the NEA is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities across the nation, the release said. Sworn in as chair in January, Jackson has worked toward "understanding and elevating arts, culture, and design as critical elements of healthy communities."
Jackson's visit to the state will include a studio tour of the new digital arts center of Low Key Arts, 620 Central Ave., Suite 2E. There will be an open house during Gallery Walk Friday evening, Sonny Kay, the executive director said.
"We have been supported by them as an organization here and there, really since the beginning in one way or another," Kay said. "We have routinely been the recipients of Arkansas Arts Council grants, which are ultimately funded by the NEA."
Low Key Arts received a grant from the NEA two years ago, which went toward furthering the program and purchasing the software in the digital arts center, Kay said.
"They helped us really get that ball rolling a couple of years ago, and it's just strange timing. It just seems kind of fortuitous and a little bit symbolic, I think, that (Jackson) just so happens to be here the day that we were already planning the Gallery Walk grand opening of our digital arts center."
The Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance also received a grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance and the NEA called the American Rescue Plan Grant last year, Mary Zunick, cultural affairs manager for Visit Hot Springs, said Wednesday.
"The intent was to help organizations that were impacted by the pandemic," she said. "And I think one of the reasons we probably received that is because with the Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance, so much of the funds that we raise. ... We don't have huge staff expenses. It goes into the hands of the artists and into programming."
Jackson will also attend the Mid-America Arts Alliance's annual meeting in Hot Springs.
"The National Endowment for the Arts is just a source of so much funding for public art in the United States, so to have (Jackson) here in Hot Springs. ... We're really happy to have her come to our local arts community to see where those dollars go and how our communities are impacted by the funding," Zunick said.
"And also just to learn about our arts community, what the arts community in a small town in Arkansas is all about."