The Mississippi School of the Arts is leading the charge statewide to create a new program that should boost enrollment at the school.
The new media arts program will be offered at the MSA in fall 2016, and executive director Suzanne Hirsch said the program will also benefit other departments.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that we really don’t want to diminish the integrity of our audition process,” Hirsch said at a Servitium Club meeting on Wednesday. “We didn’t want to accept students just for numbers. We want him to continue to have that threshold, to be able to reach that bar, and so we said, ‘We’re going to need another program.
“Visual is looking to expand its digital arts program,” she said. “The theater seeks to develop its acting for the cinema. Literary arts looks at screenwriting in addition to playwriting. So all of our departments are growing. It’s causing this stir at MSA that we haven’t had in a few years,” she said.
In addition to the new media arts program, the MSA also has a new director, Debra Price, and Hirsch hopes to establish a guest artist program at Elizabeth Cottage.
“I submitted a grant last week so we could finish the second floor of Elizabeth Cottage,” Hirsch said. “Because it will be, I think, the crown jewel of our school.”
The Visiting Artist Program would invite artists to live at Elizabeth Cottage for a few months while creating artwork and teaching. Hirsch said she hopes both programs bring positive recognition to the state.
“We all know that Mississippi is known for artistic talent coming out of state,” Hirsch said. “And to now have a place to feed him sooner – I can’t wait to see what it will be like 20 or 30 years later. If the movie industry keeps coming here, people will keep seeing Mississippi in a bigger and better way, and I think anything we can do to promote our state in a positive light is definitely welcome.
In addition to plans for the future, Hirsch also spoke about MSA’s recent successes. Last year, MSA implemented a senior seminar where seniors participate in mock interviews, also prepare for the ACT, and learn how to write a resume.
“We saw a class of 55 students get $6.5 million in scholarship offers last year. With the previous year, we had $4.5 million in scholarship offers with 62 students. So by setting up this senior seminar, which is the only thing different, a class of seven fewer kids got two million more than the year before. It tells you that kids just need information,” Hirsch said.
Hirsch said she hopes to work with administrators to help implement similar programs at other schools.