Lewis Named Director of MS Arts Commission
January 3, 2023
The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) Board of Commissioners has named David Lewis of Jackson as the new executive director of the state arts agency following a national search. Lewis will begin his tenure with the agency on January 18, 2023.
A Jackson native, Lewis is undeniably passionate about Mississippi and all it has to offer. Lewis comes to MAC from the Department of Human and Cultural Services (DHCS) for the City of Jackson, where he served as Deputy Director. In his time with DHCS, Lewis showed a commitment to finding creative ways to bring life, energy, and awareness to Jackson’s incredible places, spaces, and people. Lewis plans to bring this same energy to MAC with a focus on supporting Mississippi’s rich creative economy on a state-wide scale.
“It is a great honor to be selected as the new Executive Director for the Mississippi Arts Commission. I am thrilled to be able to advocate for what I believe to be the heartbeat of Mississippi: the arts,” said David Lewis. “The work that Sarah Story began is remarkable, and I look forward to further expanding MAC’s impact throughout our vibrant state. I have cherished my time with the City of Jackson and am thankful for the opportunity that Mayor has given me to elevate arts and culture in the city. I am excited to expand that energy and impact state-wide.”
As executive director of MAC, Lewis will be responsible for strategic planning, public speaking, grants administration, business management, partnership development, and other duties. The executive director of MAC reports to a 15-member board of directors appointed by the Governor and manages an 11-member professional staff.
“David Lewis’ excitement for promoting the State of Mississippi and the arts is contagious,” said Marie Sanderson, board chair of the Mississippi Arts Commission. “He understands the important role Mississippi’s artists have played and will play in our state, and he is focused on championing this mission at the Mississippi Arts Commission. We look forward to this new chapter with David at the helm.”
As Deputy Director of DHCS, Lewis worked with the Arts Center of Mississippi, the Russell C. Davis Planetarium, the Smith Robertson Museum, and the Municipal Art Gallery. Lewis also served as Manager of Thalia Mara Hall, where he helped usher in a 35% increase in revenue during the 2018-2019 fiscal year. With allies of the Planetarium, Lewis has shepherded the launch of a campaign to fully renovate and add onto the existing structure, helping to raise over 50% of the fundraising goal to date. Lewis is also the creator and lead for the City of Jackson’s Bicentennial campaign, which ended on December 31, 2022, and the holiday Capital City Lights event, which celebrated its second year in 2022.
Lewis currently serves on the Advisory Council for Downtown Jackson Partners and previously served for three years as Vice-Chairman of the Board for Team JXN. In 2018, Lewis received the AIA “Friend of Architecture” award and Visit Jackson’s SUMMIT “Friend of Tourism” award in 2020.
A graduate of Mississippi State University, Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in Architecture in 2015. From 2016-2018, Lewis pursued a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Jackson State University while working as a Project Specialist for the Greater Jackson Arts Council. In his role at GJAC, Lewis facilitated many creative initiatives, including the Welcome to Jackson mural, the Mississippi Light Festival, the Obama Elementary School mural, and the Community Paint Wall. Lewis rebranded and relaunched Food Truck Friday, increasing the attendee count five-fold.
Lewis and his wife, Mary Lee, live in Belhaven with their daughter, Louise.