By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
The ball is rolling on plans for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center with no signs of slowing down, according to officials working on the project.
A meeting Tuesday of the MAEC Board of Directors provided an opportunity for leaders to get an update on the progress of the center, which will house a museum featuring Mississippi's numerous contributions to arts and entertainment worldwide.
Meridian was selected to house the center more than 10 years ago.
“This was a great opportunity to bring the MAEC leadership together with a group of Meridian’s leaders to unveil the new plans for the Center,” said Tommy Dulaney, board chairman. "We were excited to have Cybelle Jones, principal and studio director at Gallagher & Associates, our Washington D.C. museum exhibition design firm who are part of the MAEC Architectural Team, in town to present the new plans and answer questions about the center.”
The center will be located on property at the corner of 22nd Avenue and Front Street. Clay Holladay, board member, said the discussion Tuesday centered around the design of the center and how the flow of the building will help tell the story of Mississippi's entertainment history.
"We had a group of people from the community to come and get an update on where we are with the design for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center," Holladay said. "We talked about the outside and inside of the building. The ball is rolling and we don't plan on it stopping."
There are still many hurdles to cross, Holladay said, not the least of which is financing the center, which is estimated to cost approximately $44.2 million. A fundraising push will get under way in a few months.
"At some point Meridian will have to get behind the project and show that Meridian is for it," Holladay said.
Because the center will represent the entire state, fundraising will also be conducted outside of the Lauderdale County area.
Acknowledging that the project did sit dormant for a while, Holladay said it's not dormant anymore.
"This board does not plan on it slowing down," Holladay said. "We are focused on seeing this project to completion."
Marty Gamblin, MAEC executive director, said it will not happen overnight.
"Now that we are really on the cusp of seeing great things happen, it would be really easy to say 'OK let's put a shovel in the ground. Let's build a building," Gamblin said. "We realize that we have to be patient. We have to learn. We have to listen to people. We have to do our due diligence ... we have to make sure that the base of it is something that can be built on forever."