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Mississippi Arts Hour

Each week, members of MAC's staff host The Mississippi Arts Hour, a radio program broadcast on Mississippi Public Broadcasting's FM and digital radio networks. The show features interviews with Mississippi artists, musicians, craftspeople, and others involved in arts and culture from around the state.

  • Web Wilder image
    Excerpt (50:30) | Air date 06/22/14
    Tom Pearson talks to musician Web Wilder
  • Lhay Thriffiley image
    Excerpt (50:30) | Air date 06/15/14
    Allison Winstead talks to musican and community organizer Lhay Thriffiley
  • George Dor image
    Excerpt (50:30) | Air date 06/08/2014
    Diane Williams talks to African music scholar George Dor.
  • Keri Horn image
    Excerpt (50:30) | Air date 06/01/14
    Jodie Engle talks to voice over actor and puppeteer Keri Horn.
  • Scott Albert Johnson image
    Excerpt (50:30) | Air date 05/25/14
    Diane Williams talks to musician Scott Albert Johnson.
  • Stephen Wade image
    Excerpt (50:30) | Air date 05/18/14
    Larry Morrisey talks to author Stephen Wade.
  • Josh Hailey image
    Excerpt (50:30) | Air date 05/11/14
    Allison Winstead talks to Jackson artist Josh Hailey
  • Lelon Thompson image
    Excerpt (50:30) | Air date 05/04/2014
    Tom Pearson talks to Lelon Thompson, Artistic Director for the Mississippi Boychoir.
  • Poetry Out Loud image
    Excerpt (50:30) | Air date 04/27/14
    Jodie Engle talks Poetry Out Loud


Diane Williams

Diane Williams is the Arts Industry Director for the Mississippi Arts Commission and works with nonprofit arts and cultural organizations to expand their capacity to carry out their programs, assure the adequacy of critical resources, strengthen management skills, and participate as full partners with other civic institutions in the lives of their community.   Diane is a member of the National Association of Black Storytellers and the Network of Biblical Storytellers.  She has been called a story weaver, a keeper of treasured tales, and a collector of phrases. Williams weaves her tales from books, history, myths, legends, and folktales, and many of her stories are original. She has traveled across America telling stories in her unique and creative way.

Larry Morrisey

Larry Morrisey has served as MAC's Director of Grants Programs since August 2008. Prior to this, he was the agency's Heritage Program Director.  In addition to his duties as one of the hosts of the Mississippi Arts Hour, Morrisey serves as the podcast producer for the show. He holds a Bachelors degree in Music from Webster University and a Masters degree in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University.

Tom Pearson

Prior to becoming the Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, Dr. Tom Pearson served as the arts education administrator for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida where he assisted arts teachers and students at 187 schools enrolled with 172,000 students. He is a 36-year veteran in education and for 20 of those years, he taught band at the elementary, middle and high school levels and has conducted orchestras and professional wind ensembles. Pearson served as vice president for governmental relations on the Florida Alliance for Arts Education board of directors and was governmental and community relations chair for the Florida Music Educators' Association.

Susan Liles

Susan Liles joined the staff of the Mississippi Arts Commission in January, 2006 as Public Relations Director. In her position, she is responsible for media relations for the agency, planning and execution of the annual Governor's Arts Awards, conception and design of the agency's printed materials and managing the website and social media. Susan is an award winning filmmaker who uses her passion for film to tell the complex and important story of the arts in Mississippi.

Jodie Engle

Jodie Engle, MAC's Whole Schools Initiative Director, has a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Ohio State University in Theatre.  She has enjoyed acting, teaching, writing and directing for over 20 years and has worked as a professional actor and teaching artist in Ohio and Mississippi. As an actor in Ohio, Jodie worked for the Columbus Children’s Theatre and the Center of Science and Technology (COSI). Throughout these experiences, arts in education influenced Jodie’s work and growth early in her career. As a teaching artist in Mississippi, Jodie has spent time working in schools to integrate the arts in classrooms through model lessons and teacher workshops with the Whole Schools Initiative, Mississippi Readers Association and the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education.

Allison Winstead

Allison Winstead joined the Mississippi Arts Commission in 2006 as their Community and Economic Development Director. Allison works with Mississippi communities to find ways that the arts, creativity and culture can weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life through creative economy and creative placemaking. MAC’s Community and Economic Development program works to ensure access by residents in communities all over Mississippi to high-quality arts programs by supporting programs at the local level. Believing that the arts can be a highly effective tool for social and economic improvement on the local level, the Commission makes trainings, presentations, research and investment available through their creative economic and community development program. With a background in economics and art history and experience in arts administration and non-profit consulting, Allison is ready to assist organizations and communities in a myriad of different ways while always working towards the same end product: creating quality arts programming reflecting each communities own set of assets, needs and aspirations.


In 1968, the Mississippi Legislature created the Mississippi Arts Commission as the official grants-making and service agency for the arts. Since then the Commission has broadened its role as an active supporter and promoter of the arts in community life and arts education.

The Commission is funded in part by the state but also receives substantial funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. With these funds, the Commission provides financial support in the form of grants for eligible arts programs and for the work of individual artists.

The role of the Commission, however, goes beyond grants-making. The executive director, hired by the Board of Commissioners, heads the 11-member staff, which not only administers grants but implements policies and provides services.

Through the arts, diverse communities of all sizes can better identify shared values, create vibrant public spaces, and enhance the effectiveness of schools. The arts also attract visitors who leave with a strong, positive image of Mississippi. Fostering excellence in the arts provides the inspiration to generate a higher quality of life for all citizens.

Click here to visit the Commission's web page.

Radio Episodes