Skip navigation

Arts Institute of Mississippi

Arts Institute of Mississippi

The Arts Institute of Mississippi (AIM) was founded in 2015 as a special initiative at Southern Miss to foster the strengths of our academic programs in the arts through collaborations and public outreach. AIM facilitates and coordinates special projects, outreach activities, and strategic initiatives under one arts umbrella. Essentially, serving as a liaison to other arts organizations throughout the state.

The human desire for creative expression is universal and timeless, and at Southern Miss, we are proud to work with tomorrow’s professional artists, graphic designers, dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers, conductors, actors, directors, set and costume designers, writers, filmmakers, and movers and shakers in the entertainment industry.

Our Mission


Increase funding for both arts education and public arts.


Encourage collaboration and public outreach among the Southern Miss arts programs.

Special Projects

Create statewide arts initiatives and special projects.

Arts Education

Celebrate excellence in arts education through annual awards.


The AIM Awards: Celebrating Excellence in Arts Education

The AIM Awards seek to recognize and honor high school level arts teachers, schools, and organizations that are making an impact through exemplary achievements in arts education throughout the state of Mississippi.

Award NominationsPast Award Recipients

When you think Arts, think Southern Miss

With over 300+ arts events, there’s always something going on at USM. Here are some of our renowned performing arts series and festivals that are bringing the arts to the community.

About the Arts Institute

AIM was founded in 2015 as a special initiative of the College of Arts and Letters at USM to promote the arts statewide. 

Dr. Jay Dean
Dr. Jay Dean, Executive Director

Dr. Jay Dean, DMA, was the Music Director and conductor of the Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra from 1988-2018. During his tenure the orchestra has grown into a university ensemble that has earned a distinguished national reputation. Founded in 1920, the Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra is the oldest operating symphony orchestra in the state of Mississippi. It presents a umber of annual subscription concerts per season in Hattiesburg, as well as many concerts throughout Mississippi. In addition to its regular symphonic concerts, the Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra performs as the orchestra for all opera and musical theatre productions.

Dr. Dean received his DMA in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to The University of Southern Mississippi, he was Music Director of Dekalb Youth Symphony Orchestra in Atlanta, the Mercer University/Atlanta Chamber Orchestra, the Columbus State University Orchestra, the Atlanta Festival Orchestra and Chorus, the Austin Civic Orchestra, and the Southwest Chamber Orchestra.

Support the Arts 

Partners for the Arts underwrites the arts programs at Southern Miss that are woven into our community’s vibrant core. By becoming a member, you can directly impact the success of Southern Miss performance ensembles and the talented students and faculty who participate in them. From departmental activities and exhibits to once-in-a-lifetime educational experiences for students, your contributions allows Partners to continue the tradition of excellence in the arts at Southern Miss and assisting in taking these programs to the next level.