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Released August 6, 2003

PARTNERS FOR THE ARTS ADDS NEW BOARD MEMBERS

HATTIESBURG -- Eight community leaders have joined the Partners for the Arts board of directors for 2003-2004.

Charles Thomas, Tommy Thornton, Ted Webb, Holt McMullan, Gray Swoope, James Moore, Marcia Hartwig and Cindy Sutherland, all of Hattiesburg, will assist the board's newly elected chair, attorney James McKenzie, and sitting board members in supporting the arts at The University of Southern Mississippi.

"We at Southern Miss are extremely fortunate to have an organization totally devoted to the arts and its outreach to our community," said Suzanne Hirsch, development officer for the university's College of Arts and Letters. "Together we have done things for both Southern Miss students and the entire community that we otherwise could not have accomplished."

Hirsch especially sees this new set of board members, all proven leaders in the community, as an asset to the organization.

"The board is a compilation of citizens from many facets of the community that brings a wealth of knowledge to the organization," Hirsch said. "These new faces will add yet another perspective on how we in the College can serve south Mississippi."

The leadership experience of the new board members joining McKenzie for the new term of office is vast: Thomas, retired vice president of operations for the Sunbeam Corporation; Thornton, executive director for Hattiesburg Clinic, P.A.; Webb, president of BancorpSouth, Hattiesburg division; McMullan, president, Trustmark Bank, Hattiesburg division; Swoope, president, Area Development Partnership; Moore, owner, Moore's Bicycle Shop; Hartwig, clinical psychologist at the Hattiesburg Clinic; and Sutherland, community leader.

Since 1997, Partners for the Arts has supported wholeheartedly the arts programs at Southern Miss. The organization was founded as an alliance between the community and the university to enhance the arts in Hattiesburg and surrounding areas. Recently, the organization restructured its role with the university.

"Since our inception, the Partners' role was limited to supplying funding for events and programs that mainly benefited its members and the community-at-large," said Nancy Guice of Laurel, immediate past chair of the advisory board for Partners. "Having seen firsthand the exceptional programs offered here and having been privy to the many talents of the faculty and students, we have adjusted our role to better serve the arts and their educational outreach needs."

Hirsch said the new plan allows for a more streamlined approach for fund raising that will "provide better visibility for all arts programs and relieve the community of the constant pressure to support numerous projects annually."

After 12 months of planning, the Partners advisory board voted on April 9 to approve the plan, thereby becoming the umbrella fund-raising organization for Southern Miss' arts programs. Freedom of choice played a crucial role in the adoption of this plan.

"What this means is that Partners for the Arts will serve the arts as the Eagle Club serves athletics," Guice said during a news conference held May 1 to announce the new structure. "Any sponsorship to the arts during the academic year of August to May will automatically make the donor a Partner at levels designated by the amount of the gift."

For the 2003-04 membership year, the Partners gala event October 24, 2003, will feature Grammy Award-winning artist Kathy Mattea in concert. In addition, Partners will collaborate with the Southern Miss arts areas in hosting guest artists such as The Actors Gang of Los Angeles, the Shapiro and Smith Dance Company, visual artists Ed McGowin and Thornton Willis and the Jazz Reach Metta Quintet.

"Not only will these events be great arts events for all of us to attend, but will include performances and educational opportunities for local K-12 schools and our own university students," Hirsch said.
The 2003-04 Partners for the Arts membership campaign is currently under way through October. For more information, contact the College of Arts and Letters at (601) 266-5922 or e-mail suzanne.hirsch@usm.edu.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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