Bologna Performing Arts Center

MSAI PLUS Campers are all smiles as they rehearse on the BPAC main stage for their final performance July 18 at 10 a.m.

MSAI Plus campers prepare for finale

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Excitement has been high this week at the Bologna Performing Arts Center as the building is filled with over 100 campers ages 5-12 who have been singing, dancing and creating. These young artists are participating in the 2015 Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute PLUS Camp. MSAI is in its 18th summer of encouraging students to celebrate the arts.

Each year, the BPAC offers PLUS Camp to children who are interested in performing arts. The camp is a one-week, performance-oriented day camp centered on learning a choreographed medley of songs. 

The camp will culminate at 10 a.m. Saturday with a public performance on the BPAC’s main stage. The performance is free, open to the community and will last approximately one hour.

“It’s really fun how upbeat camp is,” said camper Ann Garner Scott, age 10. “I also like the choreography for the dances we do.”

Throughout the week, campers participate in daily classes of puppetry, prop design, music, storytelling and more. The week culminates with a public performance on Saturday. This year’s unifying theme is “Music that Rocked the World,” featuring Disney classics, groovy music from the ’60s and tunes from “Motown: The Musical.”

“I like puppetry because our teacher is really good at showing us how to make them,” said Caroline Murrell, age 6. “He made this dragon that actually scared me it was so good.”

Joannah Taylor, Arts Education coordinator at the BPAC, is thrilled with this year’s camp.

“We are having a wonderful week educating and deepening the campers’ appreciation of the arts,” said Taylor. “Our faculty is incredibly talented, our counselors are nurturing and encouraging and our campers are fantastic. We have a very talented group of campers this year and we are delighted to see all of their hard work come to fruition on Saturday.”

For more information about PLUS Camp, contact Taylor at 662-846-4844 or visit

Storyteller Carrie Sue Ayvar, left,  works with PLUS Campers participating in this year's camp at the BPAC. The final performance for the camp is July 18 at 10 a.m. and is free and open to the community.

BPAC receives MAC grant

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The Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State University was recently awarded a mini-grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission that helped bring in award-winning storyteller Carrie Sue Ayvar as a faculty member at the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute PLUS Camp held at the BPAC.

The finding is a portion of the $1.61 million in grants MAC will award in 2015-16. The mini-grant is made possible by the continued funding from the Mississippi state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The Creative economy has never been more vibrant than it is today in the communities across Mississippi,” said Dr. Tom Pearson, MAC executive director. “This agency is honored to play a small role in assisting these organizations to continue their work of reinforcing the value of the arts and the role they play in creative place-making and economic development.”

The BPAC offers MSAI PLUS Camp every summer for campers ages 5-11. Throughout the week, campers participate in daily classes of puppetry, prop design, music, storytelling and more. The camp wraps up this year on July 18 at 10 a.m. with a final performance at the BPAC that is free and open to the community.

“Campers and counselors alike have enjoyed Carrie Sue Ayvar’s storytelling,” said Joannah Taylor, BPAC arts education coordinator. “She blends traditional and international tales together and effortlessly flows between Spanish and English. The campers are able to tell stories in Spanish after only a couple days. PLUS Camp has greatly been enhanced by having Mrs. Ayvar this year.”

Ayvar is thrilled to have the the opportunity to work with the campers.

“It’s a long trip for me to come here from South Florida, but it’s worth every little bit — Mississippi Magic, I call it,” said Ayvar. “These kids are amazing. I have 5, 6, 7, all the way up to 12-year-olds listening to stories so intently you couldn’t hear a thing. But they weren’t here in the room — they were wherever our story took us and that’s the magic of it.

“We have traveled all around the world to Mexico, to Europe. We have been on an adventure every single day. I have never seen so many kids that absolutely not only embraced the stories, but also embrace the art of storytelling to make it their own. It doesn’t get better than this.”

MAC, a state agency, serves Mississippians by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, MAC serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.

Built in 1994, the BPAC offers a rich tapestry of cultural and educational programs to serve the Mississippi Delta region. For more information, visit

The BPAC held a special dinner Thursday to thank over 60 volunteers who are part of the BPAC Ambassadors program.

BPAC celebrates Ambassadors

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Instead of tearing tickets or guiding patrons down the aisle, BPAC Ambassadors got to be the stars of the stage Thursday as the Bologna Performing Arts Center hosted a dinner on the main stage in honor of its Ambassadors, a group of more than 60 volunteers who support all BPAC events through serving as ushers, ticket takers, greeters and more.

Patrons who have ever attended a performance at the BPAC will recognize the Ambassadors’ signature green jackets and vests accompanied by a helpful smile.

The dinner marked the successful conclusion of the BPAC’s 20th Anniversary Season this past academic year.

Several Ambassadors have been volunteering at the BPAC since its inaugural season, including Rev. Jimmy Breland ‘53, who expressed his appreciation for the program.

It is a joy and a privilege to work with such a dedicated group of volunteers from across the Delta region,” said Meghann Yee, Patron Services coordinator at the BPAC. “The success of the past 20 seasons is due in part to their continued service and support of the arts at the Bologna. We are very thankful and fortunate to have such a wonderful group of Ambassadors.”

Positions are open to join the BPAC Ambassadors for the 2015-16 season, and trainings will be held in August. For more information or to sign up, contact Yee at 662-846-4625.


Summer Arts Institute Showcases at Bologna Center

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Over the past two weeks, 50 talented young artists from across the Southeast have immersed themselves in a multi-disciplinary Core Arts program through the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute. Students ranging from age 12-18 have taken intensive daily classes in various artistic disciplines including dance, vocal music, theatre, literary arts and visual arts. Led by experienced and dedicated faculty members, counselors and camp staff, the 2015 Core Arts program has been a rewarding experience for all involved.

Tonight at 7 p.m., the institute will present a literary arts reading, visual arts exhibition and closing reception in honor of the participants, faculty and staff. Community members are invited to the Bologna Performing Arts Center to enjoy original prose performed by the campers, as well as a film premier produced by the video production class. Various works of art will be on display throughout the lobby following the performance.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., the community is invited to the institute’s final performance, featuring pieces prepared by the dance, theatre and vocal music classes. Admission is free and both showcases are open to the public.

Applications for the 19th Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Art Institute will open in January of 2016. For more information, call 662-846-4844 or visit

The 2014 Core Arts program is made possible through support from the Mississippi Arts Commission, Entergy, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, the American Legion, King’s Daughters and Sons Circle Number Two, Double Quick, Domino’s Pizza, Crosstie Arts Council and Delta Dairy Frozen Yogurt.

Through support from South Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mississippi Arts Commission, the BPAC will present the dance company River North Dance Chicago in 2016.

BPAC receives support for dance company’s residency

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The Bologna Performing Arts Center was recently informed of its selection to participate in the Dance Touring Initiative funded by South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The BPAC is please to share that it has received another grant from South Arts, in partnership with the NEA and the Mississippi Arts Commission — a regional touring block-booking grant to present the dance company River North Dance Chicago,” said Laura Howell, BPAC executive director.

The grant supports a multi-day residency which will include two performances, a master class, movement workshop and a post performance discussion. The BPAC is one of four arts organizations that worked together to create a tour of the dance company. Other locations on the tour include Memphis, Somerset, Ky. and Gainesville, Fla.

The first performance by the company will be March 1, 2016 at 11 a.m. for grades 5-12. The program, titled “Street Beat: Dance Through the Decades,” teaches students about the historical and social conditions of the 20th Century and how they influenced dance, focusing on the decades of the 1920s-1990s.

Later that evening at 7:30 p.m., the company will present a public performance featuring a passionate and athletic mixed contemporary program of its current repertoire. The company is led by artistic director Frank Chaves, who aims for audiences to feel the complete spectrum of human emotions in a single evening. Both performances are part of the BPAC’s 2015-16 season.

South Arts was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. It works in partnership with each of its nine state art agencies, and is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The BPAC was built in 1994 at Delta State University and is now in its 21st season of presenting the performing arts in the Mississippi Delta. For more information, visit