The Ally: Mar 2021 – Delta Arts Alliance

Rori Herbison
Executive Director
Delta Arts Alliance

Delta Arts Alliance is a non-profit housed inside the recently refurbished Ellis Theater in downtown Cleveland. Driven by a concise mission of connection, Delta Arts Alliance works passionately and purposefully throughout the Mississippi Delta to provide equitable access to quality, impactful arts education and arts making experiences, as well as arts exhibitions and professional development.

“Delta Arts Alliance has 22 years of organizational history and 17 years of programmatic efforts in seven combined Mississippi Delta counties. Stated differently, we are standing on a firm and historic foundation,” contends Executive Director, Rori Eddie Herbison. “We have been here, filling a need – a cavernous need – that would, otherwise, be left void. Arts Education is not as readily available, accessible, or equitably dispersed as it once was in our public school system, particularly in the elementary grades where those initial connections and wild, imaginative collisions need to happen.

“If they don’t happen then, at those earliest interventions, they may not ever happen, and the research, the data, and the experiments show over and over and over, the more we can empower those brain synapses and engagement with that side of a young child’s mind, the more successful, well-rounded and emotionally stable those students will become as they matriculate through their lives.”

Delta Arts Alliance puts Artists-in-Residences into area schools, after-school programs, and weekend workshops, at no cost to the schools, so students can experience a multitude of arts disciplines, including visual art, storytelling, digital arts and media, dance, theater and African drumming and dance.

The organization also curates four to six exhibitions throughout the calendar year at its home galleries inside the Ellis Theater – a space in the center of Cleveland’s historic and bustling downtown – that the organization has invested many hours, dollars, and resources rehabilitating and restoring.

“I have proudly served with the Delta Arts Alliance for over eight years,” Herbison continues. “There are times when I have to fight back tears when I think of what this space looked like when I first stepped into it many years ago. The organization has has grown and accomplished so much in that time. To see this space shapeshifting our abilities, our direction, and our possibilities, is so incredible, so powerful.

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