By Katherine R. Dougan
Anna Boyd Hawks, the Director of Olde Towne Depot, successfully wrote for a $5,500 grant for tourism development in the city. At their August 17 meeting, Board of Aldermen members unanimously voted to accept the funds, which were granted by the Mississippi Development Authority-Visit Mississippi.
Hawks requested the funds “to promote musical arts events” in Clinton, she explained.
In 2019, Hawks, with help from Main Street Director Tara Lytal and Communications Director Mark Jones, applied for and received a mini-grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission. The funds were used to put on a puppet show, “The Princess and the Pea,” at Olde Towne Depot.
“It was a huge hit,” Hawks said. Mississippi Arts Commission mini-grants for organizations are designed to meet a wide variety of needs in the Mississippi community. For the MAC grant received by Olde Towne Depot, the funds were used to present a puppetry artist from MAC’s artist roster. Mini-grant awards range from $200 to $1,000 and require a dollar-for-dollar cash match.
“When Mayor Fisher realized or understood we wrote [for] and got the [MAC] grant, he encouraged me to take a grant-writing class.” Hawks took a one-day online course in grant writing during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I learned a lot; it was kind of an information overload.”
“One of the things I’ve asked Anna to do, and this was her first attempt at it, was to learn how to write grants and help the City with that,” Mayor Phil Fisher explained to the Board, adding that it is necessary to learn verbiage in order to write successful grant applications.
“It’s a whole different language you have to speak,” Fisher commented, regarding grant writing. The MDA tourism grant requires that fifty percent of the grant funds be used for advertising and marketing campaigns to promote tourism in the city.
The Mississippi Development Authority grant aligns perfectly with everything going on in Clinton, says Hawks.
“After looking through the grant, we realized it’s a great opportunity to market Friday-Saturday events and do a whole month of them,” Hawks explained. The events were held this past spring. Although there were a few rainouts, the month-long events, which included music and also dinner and a movie, were well attended.
“I think we brought some people into our community, let them know there’s a lot going on in Clinton.” Lions Club Park with the green spaces and new pavilion is a great place for events, Hawks said. “In September, we will collaborate with Jazz at Lions Club Park. We’re looking at some more of those MAC grants, and continue to watch what MDA is doing,” Hawks said.
Olde Towne Depot features musical performances, including First Friday Jazz, which has included the Jackson All-Stars Jazz Combo, the Hinds Community College Jazz Combo, the MC jazz trio and musician Scott Albert Johnson, to name a few.
The Olde Towne Depot is the site of meetings, school groups, parties, reunions, dances and theater performances.
For more information about events at Olde Towne Depot, visit www.oldetownedepot.com.