Dr. Kyle T. Miller, director of the Delta Cultural Center (DCC), announced May 17, 2018, that the Walton Family Foundation has awarded the DCC a grant to implement an innovative new youth summer and afterschool project. It is called the DCC Arts and Cultural Education Program. With what is an imaginative approach to education, the program will utilize history, scriptwriting and dramatic performance to enhance students’ reading, writing and oratory skills.

The project is scheduled to begin this summer. In partnership with KIPP- Delta Preparatory School, the Helena-West Helena School District, and Desoto Academy, it will serve both a public, charter, and private school. Great Rivers Co-op and Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas will also provide program resources.

“It’s a 12-month project that will allow our museum’s education department to implement a theater-based history and literacy program that’s steeped in Delta culture, fine arts, theater, and film, along with ACT preparation and academic enrichment,” Dr. Miller said. “Over two semesters, including the summer months, youth who have an interest in the creative arts, as well as in history, will be enrolled into the program.”

“This program will be a wonderful offering to the school children of Helena,” said Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Heritage. “I commend the staff of the Delta Cultural Center for their work with the Walton Family Foundation to make this happen.”

According to Dr. Miller, the program’s format is one-of-a-kind. “It’s very unique and will be the only afterschool program in Phillips County that has at its core, a cultural arts, history, and literacy focus,” he pointed out. “Unlike traditional afterschool programs, this program will engage youth in very inspiring and effective ways,”

The DCC’s program design is solidly positioned as a means of improving the students’ literacy skills by exposing them to the fundamentals of commercial, film, and television scriptwriting. The youngsters will research and write original scripts based on Arkansas’ rich cultural heritage and history. Through a sequence of extraordinary methods such as these, students will also develop important oratory and acting skills. For instance, as a final project, they will research the significance of three local historical sites-- the Dixon, Magnolia, and Confederate cemeteries.

“Afterwards, they will write oral histories on noteworthy people buried in each cemetery,” Dr. Miller explained. “Then, they will perform these oral histories for the public--similar to Little Rock Parkview’s Tales from the Crypt, which is presented annually, at Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock [Arkansas], each October,” he said.

For more information about this program, interested individuals may contact Dr. Miller at 870.338.4350.

The Delta Cultural Center shares the vision of all seven agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, to preserve and promote Arkansas Heritage as a source of pride and satisfaction. Other agencies within the department are the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Arkansas Arts Council, and the Natural Heritage Commission.