OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The coast has a lot to offer art connoisseurs, world class museums and cultural centers that already exist, and others that are on the way.
As the newly named executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, Dr. Tom Pearson wants to spread the word across the country about our cultural treasures.
"When they go to a show or go to a museum, they also possibly spend the night at a hotel, they eat out at a restaurant, they shop in our stores," Pearson explained.
Those who work at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum know that art has value. Carol Messer is the assistant director.
"I think the arts balances off the community, it balances off tourism. It's important to have a variety of different options for the tourists to come in and take a look at," Messer said.
Much of the commission's $3 million annual budget goes towards helping museums across the state in ways you may not think. Rosemary Roosa is the director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
"We rely heavily upon their grants for programming and operations. And, of course, they get some funds from the National Endowment of the Arts, as well. And we're just very appreciative of our MAC grants," Roosa said.
Commission money is also used to promote cultural events like the Peter Anderson Arts Festival, and even Cruisin' the Coast.
Dr. Pearson is a strong believer that we're surrounded by art every day. Art is not just a painting on a wall, or a sculpture. It can also be found in the automobiles we drive and the billboards we look at on the highways.
"Someone had to create that. There had to be a creative process, an artistic process behind that," Pearson said. "And so sometimes we discount the arts being fluff and really it's a part of our everyday life."
A part of life that Pearson wants to expand across the entire state.
Dr. Pearson is a native of Hattiesburg, but has been working in Florida for the past two decades, before moving back to Mississippi.
Wednesday's tour of museums along the coast was hosted by State Representative Hank Zuber of Ocean Springs.