Tilling the Soil
On August 31, 2015, JMMF announced the awarding of a $3 Million investment from ArtPlace America. Over the course of 3 years, JMMF has incorporated arts and culture into its core work, incrementally transforming the health and medical facility and surrounding district into a growing hub for creativity and innovation. Its new goal to eliminate health disparities through creative place-making shifted from its former mission as JMMF began to expand its footprint.
“The most interesting thing about our partnership with ArtPlace America was that they were more interested in transforming the way we work than the immediate results of the work itself,” says JMMF Executive Director, Primus Wheeler. This approach gave us the opportunity to do some much-needed restructuring, reimagining, and re-approaching the way we do things,” says Wheeler.
The results of the ArtPlace America and JMMF partnership extends beneath the surface level. Over the lifespan of the partnership, ArtPlace has increased the capacity and impact of JMMF as an anchor institution in Mississippi, making the results most evident first in who JMMF has become as an organization, and secondly by what the organization has been able to do.
Planting the Seeds
Since 2015, JMMF has launched several programs geared towards holistically improving health and wealth outcomes in the area. From artistic skill-building summer camps and programs for youth to quilting classes for all ages, aging artists exhibitions for seniors, JMMF has set a new tone for multigenerational creative place-making.
A small business/artist incubator has also taken shape in the SouthEast Office Center of the Mall, providing immerging artists and small business owners with affordable lease space while developing sustainable entrepreneurial models for long-term success.
Additionally, there are new plans underway to renovate the Jackson Medical Mall facility, starting with the South Retail Entrance near Piccadilly. The preliminary plans include upgrading the original parkette flooring, lowering the ceilings to improve lighting, and adding a more modern appeal with bright-colored furniture and touches of color throughout the area.
The Partnership between Artplace America and JMMF has birthed other fruitful partnerships over the years, and JMMF’s new partners are equally excited about the journey. “I’m happy to be part of an organization that understands the need to secure access to healthy foods to local communities,” says Otis Wright, Jr., Farm Manager for Jackson Medical Mall Foundation “Providing/growing local produce is the 1st step in preventative medicine of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and other issues that plague our communities,” says Wright. JMMF is planting seeds in the literal sense, by investing in urban agriculture, in alignment with its overarching mission to cultivate an environment for holistic healthcare.
Reaping the Harvest
To celebrate these fruitful partnerships of progress, change, and ingenuity, the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation hosted “The Partnership: Celebrating the art of building a stronger community through strategic partnerships,” on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at the Jackson Medical Mall.
The day-long celebration began with a Health & Art Expo and included free health screenings, art, Zumba, fitness, and music, and concluded with a grand celebration featuring a Taste of the Jackson Medical Mall District, complimentary libations, and live entertainment. Food was supplied by Bully’s Restaurant (Livingston Rd), Piccadilly, Della B’s, Subway, and Snack Zone located inside the Jackson Medical Mall. The evening celebration featured blues recording artist, Keith Johnson, and sibling singing sensation, Four Washington, along with a keynote dialogue from Jamie Bennett, Executive Director of ArtPlace America and Primus Wheeler, Executive Director of Jackson Medical Mall Foundation. The conversation, moderated by Michael Rohd, was an expert discussion on creative placemaking and sustainable programming surrounded by a creative economy. The evening’s pre-celebration featured the talented youth performing arts collective, SING! Jackson, and a debut performance by JMMF’s Steel Band under the direction of Mr. Hugh Davis.
For more information about how you can get involved, contact Fallon Brewster 769-777-0751 or Erica Reed at 601-982-8467.