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Giving back in a big way

Trustmark wins Governor’s Award for support of arts, culture

Wherever you attend a cultural event, whether it be a small town in East Mississippi, downtown Jackson or down on the Coast, there’s a good chance Trustmark National Bank is there.

“They give back, and they give back in a big way,” said Malcolm White, director of the Mississippi Arts Commission and a longtime supporter of the arts in Mississippi. “I can hardly name an event that I’ve been involved in that they weren’t present.”

For half a century, Trustmark has been a major supporter of the arts in Mississippi, and the bank’s longtime commitment will be recognized this week by the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Governor’s Office at the annual Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. Trustmark is the winner of this year’s Civic Leadership Award. The Governor’s Awards recognize those whose work in the arts has significantly contributed to the growth and development of cultural life of Mississippi.

Trustmark’s support blankets Mississippi arts and cultural events, from performing arts to visual arts to music to the Dixie National Rodeo, with plenty of children’s events in between like Circus Days in Ridgeland, Kid Zone in Jackson, the Jackson Zoo and the children’s festival and parade at the annual Mal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade in Jackson.

“We look at these relationships not just as sponsors, but as partners with each group, helping their exhibition or performances succeed,” said Gray Wiggers, senior vice president of public affairs for Trustmark. “This support improves the quality of life for all Mississippians.”

According to Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art which nominated the bank for the award, Trustmark has been involved with every major fundraiser the museum has undertaken. Trustmark’s support of the museum dates back to 1963 when Trustmark (then First National Bank) established a “Mississippi Collection,” a collection of who’s who in the Mississippi arts world that was added to on an annual basis and exhibited around the state. The works of Walter Anderson, Andrew Bucci and other artists were eventually donated to the museum where they are regularly exhibited.

The bank most recently committed to “Trustmark Free Tuesdays” at the museum, an educational outreach program to Mississippi students in kindergarten through college who can visit the museum for free every Tuesday.

The performing arts have also benefited from the bank’s patronage. Trustmark is among the most dedicated sponsors of the USA International Ballet Competition (IBC), which is held every four years in Jackson. At the 2002 competition, Trustmark sponsored the USA IBC commemorative program, which serves as both an event guide and a historical record of the competition. The company will also sponsor the commemorative program in 2006.

“Trustmark has been a sponsor of the USA IBC since 1979, and their support has meant so much to our organization,” said Sue Lobrano, executive director of the USA IBC. “They are truly an active corporate partner for Mississippi’s arts groups, and their patronage has benefited so many in the creative community. We are proud to count Trustmark as one of our sponsors.”

Trustmark is involved with numerous other cultural events and groups big and small, including the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the International Red Beans and Rice Festival, the Mississippi Arts Colony, the Metro Art Council and the Crossroads Film Society. The bank was a major sponsor for the Splendors of Versailles, the Palaces of St. Petersburg, the Majesties of Spain and the Glory of Baroque Dresden exhibitions.

As a seasoned fundraiser for cultural events around the state, White appreciates a local company like Trustmark that gives back locally. He remembers the days when Jubilee!JAM could go on with the support of just Jackson-based companies, but consolidations, mergers and buyouts have significantly lessened the ranks of local companies.

“There’s only a handful now that you can go to and pitch an event, and they can write you a check while you’re in the office, without having to send it to corporate headquarters for a corporate check,” said White, a 2004 Governor’s Award winner. “Trustmark is local, and they return their money locally.”

Bradley said Trustmark’s long history of supporting the state’s arts organizations has set the standard adopted by other Mississippi businesses of all sizes.

“Trustmark National Bank makes a genuine effort to be seen as a friend to all Mississippians,” she said.

Governor’s Awards

Judges for the 2006 Governor’s Awards were Bob Canizaro, a leader in the architectural community who was involved in the creation of the Mississippi State School of Architecture; Beth Clay, a former member and chairperson of the Mississippi Arts Commission; Gwen Magee, a Mississippi artist who creates extremely compelling and expressive quilts; Gary Bailey, an accomplished architect with over 27 years of experience and Janet Scott, director of the Greater Jackson Arts Council (formerly the Arts Alliance of Jackson and Hinds County) since1998.

The 18th annual Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, February 17, in the new Mississippi Telecommunications Center in downtown Jackson on the corner of Pascagoula and Farish streets.

The Governor’s Awards ceremony is free and open to the public.

Contact MBJ Staff Writer Kelly Ingebretsen at kelly@msbusiness.com.

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