Mississippi Cultural Crossroads (Port Gibson, MS)


Two young actors on stage, one standing on a small box holds the other by his shoulders forcing him to lean back, the backdrop has words written on it: Peanut, butter and has the drawing of a jar

Under the guidance of director David L. Crosby, Peanut Butter and Jelly Theater actors perform Be a Reader for elementary schools in Mississippi and Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Mississippi Cultural Crossroads

Mississippi Cultural Crossroads (MCC) began in 1978 to encourage the children of economically poor, rural Clairborne County to explore and appreciate the arts and culture of the community. Over the past 25 years, MCC provided programs in the arts and humanities for young people to celebrate their heritage, develop their talent, and find new means of personal expression.

In FY 2003, MCC received an NEA Arts Learning grant of $25,000 to further two of its youth programs: Peanut Butter & Jelly (PB&J) Theater and Summer Art. The theater program brings theater professionals together with high school students to create and perform productions for young children. The productions are performed in the home community and throughout areas in Mississippi and Louisiana, reaching an average of 4,000 audience members. The summer art program provides artists-in-residency to teach the participants painting, drawing, and other visual arts forms over a three-week period.

The NEA grant provided support for the 2003 and 2004 seasons of PB&J Theater and the 2004 Summer Art program. Under the guidance of director David L. Crosby, the PB&J performed Be a Reader in 2003, a show that used poems, folktales, stories, and songs to emphasize good reading skills. In 2004, PB&J Theater again toured the popular show with a new cast. Auditions began in April and rehearsals started June 1. Performances in the local community started June 14 and then traveled throughout the state. For the 2004 Summer Art program, artist-in-residence Dennis Sullivan will work in half-day sessions with approximately 25 elementary-age children on the basic concepts of drawing and painting.

(From the 2003 NEA Annual Report)