Bologna Performing Arts Center

Delta State sculpture loaned for International Ballet Competition

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The Matthew-Sanders Sculpture Garden at Delta State University is loaning one of its sculptures, “Dancer 10,” to the International Ballet Competition in Jackson from June 10-24.

The steel sculpture, which was installed in the Matthew-Sanders Sculpture Garden in 2015, was created by artist Jack Howard-Potter. Like much of Howard-Potter’s work, the stunning piece conveys a sense of fluid action in space by exploring the wide range of movement of the human figure.

The piece was the purchase award winner of the 2015-17 class of sculptures.

“Dancer 10” was moved from Delta State June 7 and was transported to the IBC in Jackson, where it will remain until the competition is completed June 24. Competition attendees will be welcomed with the piece as they arrive at the venue, Thalia Mara Hall.

Ron Koehler, Michael Stanley and Jeff Jackson carefully prepare to take down the Dancer 10 sculpture in order to transport it to Jackson for the USA International Ballet Competition.

The Matthew-Sanders Sculpture Garden operates on a biennial competition, which brings in new pieces for exhibition. The competition provides opportunities for regional and national artists to exhibit their work, makes visible the university’s commitment to artistic endeavors, enhances the vitality of the campus environment, and offers students first-hand educational experiences.

The inaugural sculpture competition was held in 2000, becoming the first sculpture garden of its kind in Mississippi. The collection now boasts 22 pieces with the main garden in front of Delta State’s Bologna Performing Arts Center, along with a number of pieces installed across campus.

In 2015, pieces spread into the community starting at nearby GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi, and later, into historic downtown Cleveland.

The IBC is considered one of the world’s premier ballet competitions, providing ongoing dance programming and promoting new audience support. It is a two-week “Olympic-style” competition for top young dancers and a major stepping-stone toward a professional career.

Competitors from all over the world vie for gold, silver and bronze medals; cash prizes; and company contracts. The audience is filled with company directors interested in hiring dancers, and for this reason, many dancers leave with jobs — possibly the grandest prize of all.

Mona Nicolas, executive director of the IBC in Jackson, called Nan Sanders, co-founder of the sculpture garden, to see if the loan was possible. Sanders then contacted the chief operating officers of the garden, Michael Stanley, chair of Delta State’s Department of Art, and Ron Koehler, former department chair.

“It’s such an honor for us to have a piece from the sculpture garden included at the International Ballet Competition,” said Sanders. “The piece is so fitting for the event, and I think it will be incredibly stunning for everyone to see. It’s also a great opportunity for us to spread the word about the sculpture garden.”

Stanley echoed Sanders’ excitement for transporting the piece to Jackson.

“It’s a beautiful sculpture and it fits right in with what the IBC is all about,” said Stanley. “We’re really glad to partner with them and provide the sculpture for the two weeks they’re in town. It’s a great opportunity for us to promote the Matthew-Sanders Sculpture Garden, and hopefully it will get some people from Jackson to come up and visit.”

Motivated by his study of human anatomy and movement, Howard-Potter works with steel to create large-scale figurative sculptures. His work has been on display throughout the world in outdoor sculpture parks, galleries and public art exhibitions.

“My sculptures seek to convey the motion of the body in extremely stressful and beautiful positions; the moment that a dancer is at the peak of a jump; the weightless split second before a body succumbs to gravity,” said Howard-Potter. “I am describing an ephemeral action in steel to convey this moment for eternity.”

Howard-Potter grew up in New York City, where he was inspired by the public sculpture of Alexander Calder, George Ricky and various performance, dance and artistic exposure. He earned a bachelor’s in art history and sculpture from Union College and has been making and displaying his original sculptures since 1997.

Sanders said she is honored to see how the garden has grown and expanded into the community through the years.

“It’s very gratifying to see the sculpture garden coming into its maturity,” said Sanders. “We have so many wonderful pieces now across campus, but the town has also bought into it with pieces at the GRAMMY Museum and in downtown Cleveland. It’s lovely to see how people have embraced it as a special feature for campus and community.”

Learn more about the Matthew-Sanders Sculpture Garden at


Planters Bank receives President’s Award

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Planters Bank received the 2018 President’s Award, given for outstanding service to the Bologna Performing Arts Center.


The Bologna Performing Arts Center recently announced Planters Bank and Trust Company as the 2018 recipient of the President’s Award, the highest honor given for outstanding service to the BPAC.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge presented the award May 22 at a special event on the theater’s stage.

“Our good friends at Planters Bank have been staunch supporters of the Bologna Performing Arts Center since its inception,” said LaForge. “Over the years, the bank’s engagement and generosity have helped the BPAC develop a strong programming component that adds so much to the culture of the Delta. Planters Bank is a remarkable exemplar of what it means to be a strong corporate supporter of the arts and community activities. Delta State is very grateful to Planters Bank for its unwavering support, and it is our pleasure to recognize the bank with the 2018 President’s Award.”

The award is given by Delta State’s president to those who have contributed their expertise, insights and energy to promote the arts for the enrichment of the Delta in special ways. The award is the BPAC’s highest honor. Acknowledgement is made through a unique award modeled after architectural details of the BPAC façade, which are covered in gold leaf.

Planters Bank is the first business to receive the award.

Founded almost 100 years ago in Ruleville and headquartered in Indianola, and with branches across the region, Planters Bank is an independent community bank with a strong focus on the Delta. The bank has been a strong supporter of Delta State, including the athletics program and various departments across campus.

Particularly notable is their consistent and continued support to the BPAC. Since the center’s construction in 1995, Planters Bank has supported the BPAC’s performances, the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Program, and year-round education programs such as the Juliet Kossman Arts Pass.

A multidisciplinary facility, the BPAC presents an annual season of national and international touring productions in addition to hosting university and community events. The new 2018-19 lineup will be announced June 1.

To learn more about the BPAC, visit or stop by the center.

Mississippi Summer Arts Institute camps filling up quickly

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The arts education department at the Bologna Performing Arts Center is gearing up for the 2018 Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute camps (MSAI). Now in its 21st summer of operation, MSAI has impacted the lives of countless emerging artists by providing one-of-a-kind opportunities for campers to gain exposure in multiple artistic disciplines. Two camps will be offered this summer for children ages 5-18.

CORE Arts Camp is a two-week residential intensive camp held on campus at Delta State University. Students create their own class schedule in a five-period-per-day format, attending hour-long courses in the performing, visual, digital and literary arts.

This year’s camp is scheduled for June 3-16, and limited residential spots remain. Non-residential options with lower fees are available for local students who wish to attend daily classes and activities, but who do not wish to stay in the dorms. Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate artistic merit and significant financial need on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information on scholarships, contact the arts education office at 662-846-4844.

CORE Arts classes are taught by leading artistic faculty from the state of Mississippi as well as artistic professionals from around the nation. Funding from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area will help to bring the poet laureate of the state, Beth Ann Fennelly, onto Delta State’s campus to lead the literary arts courses at CORE Arts this year, as well as Dr. Alphonso Sanders, chair of the fine arts program and director of the B.B. King Studio at Mississippi Valley State University. Sanders will lead a history of blues and instrumentation course while at camp. Other classes scheduled for CORE Arts camp include ballet, mixed media, paper sculpture, comic-book drawing, musical theatre and more.

Space is still available for young artists ages 5-11 to attend PLUS Camp from July 16-21, a high-energy, performance-oriented day camp. Campers learn a choreographed medley of songs and attend other classes throughout the day, including storytelling, mixed media textiles, ceramics and music. A final performance on July 21 showcases the hard work and dedication of PLUS Campers.

Interested campers can download hard-copy applications or pick them up from the BPAC, or fill out an online application at For more information, stop by the BPAC or call Cade Holder, arts education coordinator, at 662-846-4844.

The 2018 Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute is sponsored in part by the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, the American Legion Delta Post 1776, the Mississippi Arts Commission, Entergy, AT&T, the King’s Daughters and Sons Circle Number Two, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, Hey Joe’s, Dominos Pizza, the Crosstie Arts Council and the EPHIC Women’s Club.

New York-based quartet The Westerlies to perform at BPAC

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The Westerlies are a New York-based brass quartet comprised of four childhood friends from Seattle, Washington — Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler on trumpet, and Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone. The Westerlies will be performing on April 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State University. The event is part of the Recital Hall Series, featuring a more intimate audience setting in the BPAC’s 145-seat Recital Hall. Tickets are on sale now.

Formed in 2011, the self-described “accidental brass quartet” takes its name from the prevailing winds that travel from the West to the East. “Skilled interpreters who are also adept improvisers” (NPR’s Fresh Air), The Westerlies explore jazz, roots and chamber music influences to create the rarest of hybrids — music that is both “folk-like and composerly, lovely and intellectually rigorous” (NPR Music). Equally at home in concert halls and living rooms, The Westerlies navigate a wide array of venues with the precision of a string quartet, the audacity of a rock band, and the charm of a family sing-along.

Their latest concert program, “Songs We Sang: American Vocal Music of the 20th Century,” traces the sound of the 20th century through a variety of American vocal traditions. From the songs of Charles Ives .to the spirituals of the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet, The Westerlies draw a line through jazz, classical and folk languages.

In addition to their public performance, The Westerlies will perform a mini-concert for a local assisted living community, as well as conduct a masterclass for Delta State University students.

Tickets to see The Westerlies are $35, and discounts are available for students and groups of 10 or more. Tickets are on sale now at or at the BPAC Ticket Office at 662-846-4626.

World-class trombonists to perform at Delta State

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The Department of Music is proud to announce Slidin’ in the Delta 2018! — Delta State’s Trombone Day. The event will be held on campus April 7 beginning at 11:30 a.m., and includes two free concert performances by world-renowned guest artists.

The featured guests for the day-long event will be Scott Hartman, professor of trombone at Yale University, and the United States Military Academy Trombone Quartet, featuring members of the United States Army Band – West Point.

As part of the festival, both guest artists will be performing solo recitals. The trombone quartet will be performing a recital at 11:30 a.m. and Hartman will perform a trombone recital at 3:30 pm. Both performances will take place in the Recital Hall of the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

The quartet will perform works by Hornoff, Bach, Reifenberg, Rossini and Wilder, among others.

Hartman’s performance will feature selections by Hahn, Quilter, Jongen, Shewan, Piazzolla, Da Silva and Nestico.

The recitals are free and open to the public. For more information, contact 662-846-4615.