Mississippi Humanities Council taps local volunteer for award

February 3, 2012 11:21:00 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


When the Jackson-based Mississippi Humanities Council announced recipients of its 2012 Public Humanities Awards Thursday, Beverly Norris of Columbus, and the Columbus Arts Council, were named to receive the Humanities Partner Award. Honorees will be recognized in ceremonies Feb. 24 at the Hilton Jackson Hotel in the state capitol. 


The awards recognize outstanding contributions by Mississippians to the study and understanding of the humanities.  


Norris, a Columbus Arts Council board member, planned and coordinated special programming for the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, "New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music." The Arts Council hosted the exhibit Oct. 28 through Dec. 10 at the Rosenzweig Arts Center. New Harmonies is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and Mississippi Humanities Council. 


"The Partner Award is for an individual, and/or group, who has worked in a noteworthy way with the Humanities Council over the last year," said David Morgan, the Humanities Council's director of special projects. "Beverly just did an exemplary job of putting together the programming and promotion for the New Harmonies exhibit in Columbus." 


Columbus Arts Council programs during the six-week exhibit on America's early music included performances of African drum and dance, blues concerts, music from Europe, gospel, bluegrass, country, folk and American Indian song and dance. Seminars covered topics from Jimmie Rodgers to the protest songs of Merle Haggard. There was even a diddly bow-making workshop. 


"The award is humbling," Norris remarked. "It seems unfair to get recognized for something you enjoy doing so much. It was a wonderful exhibit, one that made it easy to plan programming. It was the dedicated support of the Humanities Council and Smithsonian, and all our staff, board and volunteers that made it such an exciting experience." 


"We value all the volunteers who were instrumental in bringing New Harmonies to Columbus, but without Beverly and her outstanding leadership, the event would never have been the success it was," said Arts Council Executive Director Tina Sweeten. 


Lillie Lovette is on the Mississippi Humanities Council Speakers' Bureau and presented the local Merle Haggard seminar. 


"I thoroughly enjoyed being in Columbus; the programs were so well-received," Lovette emphasized. The work done during New Harmonies' Columbus visit was "outstanding," she added, achieving "the objectives of community involvement and community enhancement." 


This marks the Mississippi Humanities Council's 40th year supporting programs and scholarship that enrich the lives of Mississippians. The Council is funded by Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities to provide public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines to serve nonprofit groups in Mississippi. 


For information about other 2012 awards, or tickets to the Feb. 24 event in Jackson, visit mshumanities.org, or call 662-432-6752.  


Editor's Note: Beverly Norris is Jan Swoope's sister.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.