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Markusen to highlight Clarksdale at Winning the Race conference

Dr. Ann Markusen, director of the Arts Economy Initiative and the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will facilitate a Lunch and Learn community session at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center in Clarksdale as part of the Winning the Race conference.

Dr. Ann Markusen, director of the Arts Economy Initiative and the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will facilitate a Lunch and Learn community session at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center in Clarksdale as part of the Winning the Race conference.

Dr. Ann Markusen, director of the Arts Economy Initiative and the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will facilitate a Lunch and Learn community session in Clarksdale as part of the Winning the Race conference at Delta State University.

As part of Delta State University’s engagement with the Mississippi Delta region, the institution’s Winning the Race conference has invited Markusen to speak at a pre-conference event March 30 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center, a Delta State satellite campus located at 109 Clark Street in Clarksdale.

The free session is open to the public with joint sponsorship from the city of Clarksdale, the Coahoma County Tourism Commission, Clarksdale Revitalization, Inc., Crossroads Cultural Arts Center and the International Delta Blues Project at The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University.

To register for attendance, contact The Delta Center via email at hmiller@deltastate.edu or by phone at (662) 846-4311.

Markusen will also present two sessions on creative placemaking and the creative economy during the Winning the Race conference at Delta State on March 31. One of the sessions will focus on Clarksdale.

In 2014, Clarksdale Revitalization, Inc. received a highly competitive $350,000 grant from ArtPlace to create the Crossroads Cultural Arts Center. The center will preserve the region’s rich history of art, writing and music, with a focus on African American contributions to the arts. Plans for the center include an art gallery, as well as performance and retail spaces.

“Being awarded an ArtPlace grant is a powerful indicator that a community has the right elements for harnessing the power of the creative economy,” said Markusen. “The Lunch and Learn community session will help citizens and stakeholders to understand what creative placemaking is about and the opportunities that it presents for socioeconomic inclusion and diversity in Clarksdale and throughout the region.”

Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett is looking forward to hosting the experienced lecturer.

“The renewal of Clarksdale’s downtown has happened through realizing the cultural assets and developing the creative economy that was already working into an engine that is still picking up steam,” said Luckett. “We are thrilled that Dr. Markusen is bringing her expertise to Clarksdale. We look forward to her imparting from her experience, which we can use as we continue to develop our creative economy.”

Markusen is principal of Markusen Economic Research and is professor emerita and director of the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics and its Arts Economy Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. She holds a foreign service bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s and doctorate in economics from Michigan State University. She has taught at Colorado, California Berkeley, Northwestern and Rutgers universities.

The Lunch and Learn event also will serve as an inaugural workshop for the Blues Leadership Incubator under Delta State University’s International Delta Blues Project, which is funded by the Hearin Foundation. The Blues Leadership Incubator is a series of workshops and seminars designed to build awareness of opportunities for Delta residents to engage with the creative economy.

“This event will help to promote community awareness of how blues and other African American art forms are key drivers of the Delta’s creative economy,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center. “We look forward to Dr. Markusen educating both residents and visitors in Clarksdale and at Delta State about how creative placemaking and the creative economy are opportunities for diversity and inclusion throughout the region.”

“Blues tourism has become a major economic driver for Clarksdale and the Delta,” added Lee Aylward, lead coordinator for the International Delta Blues Project. “Clarksdale literally is ground zero, the crossroads of blues tourism in the Delta with its many Mississippi Blues Trail markers and rich, living blues culture. The Blues Project’s support of the Lunch and Learn event is timely.”

The mission of the Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

The Coahoma County Higher Ed Center is a partnership between Delta State University and Coahoma Community College. Its mission is to expand educational opportunity for the people in Coahoma County and surrounding counties by offering classes and events that will encourage personal development and promote a higher quality of life for all people in the Mississippi Delta.

Follow all Winning the Race conference updates at http://www.deltastate.edu/winning-the-race/.