Former MGCCC theatre instructor wins Governor’s Arts Award

October 31, 2012

Kathryn Lewis, former theatre instructor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, has been named a recipient of the 2013 Governor’s Arts Award.  The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) will honor Lewis, who won the award for Arts in Education, and the four other recipients (Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Beth Henley, bluesman Bobby Rush, Motown artist Eddie Willis, and Bay St Louis Little Theatre) at the 25th annual public ceremony on February 21, 2013 in the Belhaven University Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the Stone County Economic Development Partnership nominated Lewis for the award.

“Kathryn Lewis works very hard to support the arts in South Mississippi communities,” said Dr. Mary S. Graham, Gulf Coast President.  “From the amazing A to Z children’s books and teacher resources she has helped create, to storytelling in the Stone County Library and the Telling Trees Project, she tries to bring the arts to as many people as possible.”

Lewis, who was the theatre director at the Perkinston Campus for 32 years, founded the Perk Players Children’s Theatre Touring Company, now celebrating its 43rd touring season.  Under her direction, the Perk Players performed over 1,200 shows to audiences of more than 500,000 children in 800 South Mississippi schools free of charge.  After retirement, Lewis became the co-founder and director of the Telling Trees Project, a project to research, document and present our past by gathering oral histories and their performance through the arts.  Over 50 interviews were conducted and stories from those oral histories were performed over 300 times to various groups.  The project expanded to include 26 historical murals in Stone County, resulting in Stone County’s designation as the Mural County of Mississippi by the Mississippi Legislature in April 2012.

“I am honored that MGCCC and the Stone County Economic Development Partnership chose to nominate me for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts,” Lewis said. “A journey like mine takes a community that honors the arts and believes that when Picasso said ‘every child is an artist…the challenge is to keep them that way’- he was talking about the community and students that MGCCC serves.”

The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented annually to outstanding writers, artists, performers, craftsmen and educators who have made significant and lasting contributions through their work as well as to corporations or organizations on the basis of their dedication to arts advancement. Previous winners include B.B. King, James “Super Chikan” Johnson, Malcolm White, John Grishman, the US Poet Laurent Natasha Trethewey , Charley Pride the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, USA International Ballet Competition, William Eggleston, Bo Diddley and Leontyne Price.

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