Mississippi Center for Cultural Production
Southern Cultural Treasures
Year of Award
Grant or Fellowship
Southern Cultural Treasures
Mississippi Center for Cultural Production has been organized to support groups and individuals creating social, economic, and cultural transformation toward long-term sustainability through the research, creation, and presentation of arts, culture, and agriculture.
Sipp Culture was founded in 2017 in Utica, a small rural community in central MS with a population around 4500. Our work centers on restoring hope and possibility to the rural southern landscape through supporting creativity, imagination, remembrance, and the fostering of new relationships. We center the voices and experiences of people of color, specifically Black people in the rural South. Our primary audiences are the community residents of Southwest Hinds, Northern Claiborne, and eastern Warren counties in central MS. This area is rural and predominantly Black. It includes three community colleges and agriculture is the primary industry. Our secondary audience is the community of artists and cultural producers living and working within a larger regional area that includes the metro areas of Jackson, New Orleans, Memphis, and the Black Belt of Alabama.
We work at the intersection of food and story to support artists living and sharing experiences of the rural south. Our work supports artist’s professional development, visioning, providing production support and space for them to work on projects across all stages of development from idea generation to tour preparation. Our work utilizes food, personal and community narrative, and a generative collective history of place to advance comprehensive community cultural development to reimagine a 21st century rural infrastructure based on principles of self-determination, production, and sustainability.
Leadership - Carlton Turner
Carlton Turner is an artist, agriculturalist, researcher, and co-founder of the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (Sipp Culture). Sipp Culture uses food and story to support rural community development in his hometown of Utica, Mississippi where his family has been for eight generations. He currently serves on the board of First People’s Fund, Imagining America, Project South and the National Black Food and Justice Alliance. Carlton is a member of the We Shall Overcome Fund Advisory Committee at the Highlander Center for Research and Education and is the former Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS and is a founding partner of the Intercultural Leadership Institute.
Carlton is a current Interdisciplinary Research Fellow with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and was named to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts YBCA100. He is also a former Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow and former Cultural Policy Fellow at the Creative Placemaking Institute at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design in the Arts.
Carlton Turner is also co-founder and co-artistic director, along with his brother Maurice Turner, of the group M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction). M.U.G.A.B.E.E. is a Mississippi-based performing arts group that blends of jazz, hip-hop, spoken word poetry and soul music together with non-traditional storytelling. His current work is River Sols, a new play being developed in collaboration with Pangea World Theater that explores race, identity, class, faith, and difference across African American and South Asian communities through embodiment of a river.
He is also a member of the Rural Wealth Lab at RUPRI (Rural Policy Research Institute) and an advisor to the Kresge Foundation’s FreshLo Initiative. In 2018, Carlton was awarded the Sidney Yates Award for Advocacy in the Performing Arts by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals. Carlton has also received the M. Edgar Rosenblum award for outstanding contribution to Ensemble Theater (2011) and the Otto René Castillo Awards for Political Theatre (2015).
Southern Cultural Treasures is a program of South Arts and made possible with support from the Ford Foundation and the Alice L. Walton Foundation.