The Laurel Arts League is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Founded in 1969, the non-profit organization is dedicated to supporting and celebrating the visual and performing arts through public education and events within the City of Laurel and throughout Jones County, according to its mission statement.
In November of 1969, the 14 founding members of the Laurel Arts League had their inaugural meeting, electing Pat Westover, Bobbie Lou Green, Susan Openshaw and Marda Burton to its first executive board. The Laurel Arts League was founded as an arm of the Laurel Arts Council, a group of organizations focused on arts education and cultural development in Laurel.
The Arts League now has 59 volunteer members and supports many area projects, such as the Art on Masonite Contest, the Heritage Arts Festival, the Very Special Arts Event and the City Wide Art Contest. In 2018, the Laurel Arts League awarded $2,000 in scholarships to student artists within Jones County.
The Laurel Arts League sponsors many arts programs and events throughout the year, including exhibits at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, arts classroom programming in the community's schools and the creation of the Leontyne Price musical park downtown.
New this year, the Laurel Arts League supported the Mississippi Plein Air Painters painting event in Laurel. On Saturday, the city hosted nearly 100 artists who created their pieces in the downtown area.
The crowning jewel of the Laurel Arts League’s season is the family-friendly Day in the Park festival, which is a day of fun, art, music, food and community fellowship. The 48th annual Day in the Park will be on May 2, 2020, making it the longest running festival in Laurel history. Proceeds from Day in the Park are used throughout the year to support student art programs, museum exhibits, public art projects and to give scholarships to aspiring artists.
“I am proud to serve as president of an organization that has a 50-year history of celebrating arts in Jones County,” Kim Knobles said. “As the Laurel Arts League continues to grow, our commitment remains strong to the community we serve, and we are always looking for additional opportunities to support and enrich artistic appreciation and education.”
To learn more about the Laurel Arts League or Day in the Park, visit www.laurelartsleague.com.
Past members are asked to send their contact information to Laurel Arts League through its Facebook or Instagram page or send a note to P.O. Box 4188 Laurel, MS 39441. Connect with Laurel Arts League on Facebook or Instagram for updates on projects and Day in the Park information.