After nearly 15 years of public service to the state of Mississippi, Malcolm White will retire as executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission on September 30, 2020. His career in public service has included two stints as executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission as well as several years serving as director of Visit Mississippi. White is perhaps best known for his role in the hospitality industry as owner of the popular Hal & Mal’s restaurant and founding special events throughout the state such as Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade.
White began his career in public service as the executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, administering recovery programs to artists and arts organizations impacted by the storm. He also promoted the arts as an economic driver, means of community transformation and powerful educational tool. He remained with the agency until 2012, when he became director of Visit Mississippi, which is Mississippi Development Authority’s tourism division.
While there, White developed and implemented plans to create economic growth and opportunities through tourism, the creative economy and promoted the state as a travel destination and film location. Returning to MAC as executive director in 2016, White continued the work of his previous stint at the agency and oversaw a digitization of the agency’s grant process, the creation of the Mississippi Writers Trail and a re-envisioning of the agency’s signature arts education program Mississippi Whole Schools.
“After twelve years at MAC, and three years at Visit Mississippi, I am ready to step out of public service and back into the private world,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “I’m grateful to have followed in my father’s footsteps and for the opportunity to serve my fellow citizens. I have had the chance to put forth a few big ideas and share my sanguine notions, intended to improve our quality of life, our view of ourselves and the road ahead. But most of all, I am proud to have represented the greatest asset our state possesses, and that is our story; the arts, culture and our unparalleled creative spirit.”
“Malcolm brought a unique set of skills to the Arts Commission,” said Carol Puckett, board chair of the Mississippi Arts Commission. “His background as a successful entrepreneur and trendsetting cultural leader transformed and energized the work of the agency. He is well-known for his big ideas, passion for the arts in all forms and advocacy of small towns and out-of-the way places. The arts in Mississippi are better, healthier and more visible because of his leadership.”
Throughout White’s career, he has been a member of and served on the committees of numerous civic organizations. White is involved with South Arts, the Mississippi Blues and Country Music Trails, Downtown Jackson Partners and he is past chairman of the Mississippi Blues Commission. He has published two books: Little Stories: A Collection of Mississippi Photos, a book of images he created from visits covering the state over several years and The Artful Evolution of Hal & Mal’s, a collaboration with artist Ginger Williams Cook and memoir of “the most talked about upscale honky-tonk in Mississippi.”
The Mississippi Arts Commission has launched a search for a new executive director to lead the state agency. Details of the position requirements as well as application information can be found at arts.ms.gov/work-for-mac. The deadline to apply for this position is July 31.
For more information on MAC’s grants programs and other services, visit the agency’s website at arts.ms.gov.