Desoto County News

DeSoto Arts Institute receives grant funding for expansion

The DeSoto Arts Institute is one of several arts organizations benefiting from a part of $5.2 million in grants provided by the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). The awards were announced Thursday morning, Nov. 9. 

The money is from a program titled “Building Fund for the Arts,” of BFA. A total of 34 organizations in 23 Mississippi counties are receiving grant money that “supports the much-needed repair, renovation, expansion, or construction of Mississippi facilities that serve as sites for year-round arts programming in their communities,” according to a news release from the Arts Commission.  

“The BFA program is an important part of enhancing and supporting the creative economy in Mississippi,” said David Lewis, Executive Director of MAC. “The grants from this program reach well beyond the receiving organization – impacting and uplifting the deserving communities that these facilities will serve.”

The DeSoto Arts Institute calls itself “a non-profit media arts training organization providing exposure, education, and hands-on experience in film production, video production, screenwriting, acting, music production, and audio production,” according to its website.  

Robb (Rokk) Smith with DeSoto Arts Institute said the $110,000 being received from the BFA funding will help with expansion of its facility inside the Southpoint Church building off Stateline Road and Highway 51 in Southaven.  

“The MAC grant money will be applied to expansion of our existing film studio, edit bays, screening theater, classrooms, recording studio, and construction of a new 3000sf soundstage,” Smith said. 

Other area grant awards from the BFA funding were to the Town of Byhalia, awarded $273,000 to renovate the Byhalia Library, and to the City of Senatobia, awarded $155,000 to outfit the new Sycamore Arts Gallery.

A panel of experts within the arts and economic development communities ranked the submissions based on artistic quality, project plan, project professionals, organizational capacity, and project impact.

The Mississippi Legislature approved $5 million for the BFA program for FY2024, $2.2 Million more than in FY2023. In FY 2024, MAC received 63 letters of intent with a total amount of $12.8 Million requested for the BFA grant.

“Grants like the Building Fund for the Arts are vital to our local communities in Mississippi,” said State Sen. Nicole Boyd in a news release. “Art organizations serve as a community hub and often bring performances, shows, and events that boost our local economies.”

The Mississippi Arts Commission hopes to offer the Building Fund for the Arts grant in the future as funding through the Mississippi Legislature allows.

For more information about the BFA grant and other grant opportunities through the Mississippi Arts Commission, visit

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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