MGA Receives Georgia Council For The Arts Grant To Fund Native American-Themed Festival

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2022 12:00 AM
Categories: Pressroom | Faculty/Staff | Students | School of Arts and Letters

Macon, GA

Image: National Park Service

The Georgia Council for the Arts awarded a $6,000 grant to Middle Georgia State University’s School of Arts & Letters to help organize and host a major festival celebrating Native American arts and culture, the organization announced this week.

The festival, “Reclaiming the Native South,” will take place from March 25 through April 14, 2023, and will explore the richness and deep roots of Native American arts and culture in the South, particularly in the Middle Georgia region, which is home to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.

“The moment is particularly ripe for a festival focused on this theme,” said Dr. Mary Wearn, dean of the School of Arts & Letters (SOAL), referring to the recent elevation of Ocmulgee Mounds from a national monument to a national historical park – the only one in Georgia.

“Regional and statewide interest in the history of Ocmulgee Mounds and the culture of Indigenous peoples of the South is vibrant and growing,” she said. “The festival will feature acclaimed Native American literary, visual, and performing artists and will also include participatory art workshops led by Middle Georgia State faculty, and a scholarly humanities panel. We are grateful to the Georgia Council for the Arts for their financial support and for their ongoing commitment to transforming communities through the arts.”

Georgia Council for the Arts is a strategic arm of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The $6,000 grant awarded to Middle Georgia State (MGA) is part of the organization’s initial disbursement of grants for fiscal year 2023. A total of 213 organizations were awarded 253 grants that provide more than $3.1 million in funding to arts organizations throughout the state.

Funds awarded by Georgia Council for the Arts include appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The MGA Foundation is matching the $6,000 grant the council awarded for the arts festival.

Earlier this year, SOAL’s planned arts festival also drew a $2,500 grant from the Georgia Humanities Council, funds that the MGA Foundation will match as well. The humanities council funding, awarded to SOAL and its organizing partner, the Ocmulgee Mounds Association, will be used specifically to support a scholarly panel aligned with and embedded in the arts festival.

The panel will include MGA’s own Dr. Matt Jennings, a history professor and Ocmulgee Mounds scholar, as well as faculty from other colleges and universities. The panel will explore Native American issues related to Ocmulgee Mounds, including the park’s ancestral ties to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

“We appreciate the support of the Georgia Humanities Council and their stewardship in sharing stories that move and make us,” Wearn said. “The panel that this particular funding will support will provide scholarly discussion about how Native American history and culture orients and constructs new understanding of Southern history, Southern culture, and ‘the South’ as a concept.”

Aside from the panel, the festival will  feature events and activities for various audiences, including K-12 students, teachers and staff; students and faculty of all of Macon’s colleges and universities; regional and state community members; and local artists.

Wearn said new MGA faculty member Giuliano Graniti, a scholar of Native American music, will develop programming for the festival. Tentative guests so far include Annette Clapsaddle, a member of the Eastern band of Cherokee Indians and author of the novel, “Even As We Breathe;” Malinda Maynor Lowery, a documentary film producer and historian; Robbie Ethridge, historical and environmental anthropologist; Jace Weaver, religious, literary, and law scholar; and Beau Carroll, archeologist.

MGA has been hosting spring arts festivals with various themes for more than 20 years. All events are free and open to the public.