Meet our friends at The Whole School Initiative (WSI)! WSI is a program through the Mississippi Arts Commission that focuses on arts integration as a method of school reform. Learn more about WSI after the jump!
In 1968, the Mississippi legislature created the Mississippi Arts Commission as the official grantsmaking and service agency for the arts. In the 1990s, the Commission has broadened its role as an active supporter and promoter of the arts in community life and arts education.
The Commission is funded in part by the state but also receives substantial funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. With these funds, the Commission provides financial support in the form of grants for eligible arts programs, such as the Whole Schools Initiative and for the work of individual artists.
The mission of the Mississippi Arts Commission is to be a catalyst for the arts in Mississippi. The six goals of the Commission’s strategic plan guide the agency’s mission:
- Support the development of Mississippi communities through the arts;
- Improve the capacity and stability of Mississippi’s arts organizations;
- Strengthen education in and through the arts;
- Increase knowledge of and pride in Mississippi arts and culture;
- Recognize and encourage Mississippi artists; and
- Sustain the Commission’s administrative effectiveness.
Commitment to Goal 3 has seen the Whole Schools Initiative grow from a small grants program in the early 1990’s to its current status as a year-round, nationally recognized model for using the arts to teach across the standard curriculum. An annual weeklong Summer Institute, as well as Fall and Spring Retreats, offer educators outstanding opportunities for professional development. A dedicated team of field advisors assures the continued growth of this unique program.
A 15-member volunteer board governs the Mississippi Arts Commission. Commissioners bring expertise in the arts, business, and community affairs. They represent the citizens of Mississippi. Appointed by the Governor for five-year terms, three new Commissioners are named each year.
The executive director, hired by the Board of Commissioners, heads the 11-member staff, which implements policies, administers grants, and provides services. The staff consults on community arts development, performing, visual and literary arts, folk arts, and arts education, of which the Whole Schools Initiative is a major component.
Among the Commission’s many grant programs and special initiatives, Whole Schools remains one of the most respected and recognized undertakings, a superb example of how the arts can enrich schools and their communities. In addition to funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whole Schools Initiative has been supported by the Mississippi Department of Education, The National Geographic Foundation, several corporate and private funders, and a generous grant from the United States Department of Education.