The Mission of the Mississippi Festival is to bring outstanding performing arts events to the people of Mississippi which will expand and improve opportunities for access, appreciation and education in the arts. The Foundation is committed to the belief that the arts are not for the privileged few but for the many, and that by striving for artistic excellence and diversity in our programs, we will develop new audiences for the future as well as serve the traditional and non-traditional audiences of today.
- To increase the number and quality of dance, music and theatre performances available in our schools and communities.
- To reach students and adults in areas of the state who currently have little or no access to professional performing arts events.
- To present works which will expand our understanding and knowledge of the performing arts in our culture.
- To provide opportunities to showcase some of the best new work by artists and arts organizations based in the Mid South.
The Mississippi Festival grew out of a performance series which was organized in Jackson by Robert Canon and Thalia Mara in 1999, under the auspices of the Thalia Mara Arts International Foundation. The Series included internationally renown companies and artists such as the American Ballet Theatre, violinist Joshua Bell, legendary pianist Alicia de Larrocha, the Aquila Theatre of London, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Cirque Eloize, and Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Following the death of Miss Mara, the Mississippi Festival Foundation was chartered in 2005 to continue to present major professional performances and to begin long range planning for the development of a comprehensive major arts festival to serve Mississippi and the Mid-South region.
Delta Arts Program:
In 2007, with support from Morgan Freeman and the Rock River Foundation, the Mississippi Festival launched a new performance and educational program designed to reach children and families in the Mississippi Delta who have had little or no exposure to the arts.. Through our Delta Arts Program, we currently reach over 20,000 children and families in a five county region in North Mississippi. We provide free student performances, workshops and educational programs and also present major public performances in Jackson, Clarksdale and Memphis.