Partners help music museum keep doors open through June

Published 12:04 am Friday, March 20, 2015

From left, Annette Duet, Russell Duet, Bill Bellan and Collin Singleton look at the stars marked with the names Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame inductees in front of the museum. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

From left, Annette Duet, Russell Duet, Bill Bellan and Collin Singleton look at the stars marked with the names Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame inductees in front of the museum. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

FERRIDAY — The Delta Music Museum may no longer face the imminent scaling-back of operations other properties in the Louisiana State Museum system do.

The Louisiana  Secretary of State’s Office announced last month that because of a nearly $1 million mid-year budget cut from the state, it would have to reduce operations at the Ferriday museum — along with 14 other properties — to one day a week.

Two part-time positions would be eliminated and a third would be reduced under the scale back, which would begin in April. When the plan was announced, Secretary of State Tom Schedler said his office would look for local partnerships to find ways for facilities to stay open.

Secretary of State’s Office Spokeswoman Meg Casper said Thursday the office been in discussions with local partners who want to see the museum remain at its current operational hours through June 30 in an effort to see if the legislature find additional funding for museums in 2016.

Casper said the office is working with the group — The Friends of the Delta Music Museum — to finalize the necessary memorandum of understanding to make it happen.

Ferriday resident and former Secretary of State Al Ater donated the funding to the Friends group.

Ater said the arrangement was organized through the work of state Rep. Andy Anders (D-Clayton).

“The Delta Music Museum is a very important community center, and reducing it down to one day a week, that is virtually closing it,” Ater said.

The museum is a valuable tourism resource, and it’s sister property — the Arcade Theater — hosts “everything from kindergarten graduations to gospel singing shows,” Ater said.

“I didn’t do this for the fame or to get my name in the paper,” he said. “This is my home and I was in a position to help. In our communities, we need to give back to make them better, and I had the ability to give back at this time.”

The museum faced mid-year scale-backs in 2012 and was reduced to three-days-a-week operations, but is currently open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Approximately 13,000 visitors make their way through the museum and the Arcade Theater annually.

With a mission to collect, preserve and exhibit the musical heritage along the the Mississippi River, the Delta Music museum — located in the former Ferriday post office — is a free admission facility.

Twenty-one musical acts — including among others Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Jimmy Swaggart, Pewee Whitaker, Percy Sledge and Pete Fountain — have been inducted into the museum’s Hall of Fame.

Newsman Howard K. Smith, a Ferriday native, has likewise been received into the Hall.