Longs supports Arts

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will bring the Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra to the University of Mississippi this fall, thanks to a generous gift from Northsiders Billy and Rebecca Long.

The $20,000 gift established the FCPA Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra Fund. The Longs became interested in assisting the Ford Center through Cheryle Sims, a Ford Foundation board member and former patient of Long’s.

“Several years ago, she invited us to attend a ballet performance and introduced us to this wonderful facility,” he said. “Since then, we have gotten progressively more interested in attending various events. We realize what a wonderful venue the Ford Center offers to the greater Mississippi community.”

Last year, the Longs traveled to Russia and attended several opera, ballet and symphony performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg while also touring academies where young Russians are trained in artistic skills. The UM alumnus and longtime Ole Miss sports fan wanted to provide a way to bring these performers to the United States.

“We are excited about the future offerings at the Ford Center, and the intention to promote the performing arts to a wider audience,” Long said. “I hope that our interest in the Ford Center may spark an interest in our junior high and high school students to see live performances.

“The Ford Center is an essential part of the university’s outreach to Oxford and the surrounding area, but also to our college students who wish to develop an appreciation for the performing arts, and even become a performer themselves.”

The performance is set for October 3 and will include an outreach activity earlier that day for area students, said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director.

“It will be an international cultural event that will appeal to arts enthusiasts of all ages, and I believe our Oxford audience will embrace this group of talented young musicians and welcome them into our community,” she said.