Mesquite Arts organizations received more than $15,000 in grant awards from the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation. From left, Geni Barton (Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant), Maggie Calhoun, (GMAF Board of Directors President), Gail Ashdown (Mesquite Arts Council), Vicki Eckman (Mesquite Toes Tap Team), Jean Wiensch (Virgin Valley Artists Association), and Teri Nehrenz (Virgin Valley Theatre Group). Photo by Barbara Ellestad.

Culminating a months-long process, the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation recently awarded over $15,000 in grant monies to local Arts organizations to help support their activities. Most of the money was raised by the annual Hearts for the Arts Gala held in February which is the main source of funds for GMAF along with private donations.

The GMAF Board of Directors requested applications for use of the funds from the five Mesquite art organizations it supports – Virgin Valley Theatre Group, Mesquite Arts Council, Mesquite Toes Tap Team, Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant, and the Virgin Valley Artists Association.

“Our efforts are bringing money from the community right back to the community,” Maggie Calhoun commented. She is the President of the GMAF Board of Directors. “Everyone is working together to improve and enhance the opportunities we provide the community to enjoy the arts in Mesquite.”
The Mesquite Toes Tap Team is using its grant money to purchase a new sound system, ballet bars and ceiling fans that will enhance the dancers’ practice room. “Little by little we are improving our practice facilities and making it more fun for our dancers,” Vicki Eckman, founder of the Tap Team remarked about the award.

The Virgin Valley Artists Association plans to use the money it received towards the purchase of a new marquee sign outside the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery. “The current sign is more than 10 years old and is falling apart,” Jean Wiensch, VVAA President, explained. “We’ll combine the grant money with some of our own to buy a new outdoor sign and advertise our events better.”

Mesquite Arts Council will use the funds it was granted to help bring higher class performers to the community, especially the Missoula Children’s Theatre performance that features local children in its cast. Some of the money will also help pay the organization’s office rent.

The grant funds awarded to the Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant will offset travel expenses for this year’s contestant Loretta Green and her assistant to participate in the state-wide Ms. Senior Nevada Pageant in August. Pageant officials will also use some of the funds to help pay advertising costs for future pageants.
The Virgin Valley Theatre Group plans to use its grant award towards improving marketing efforts for the upcoming Theatre season. Special promotional mailers used last year proved to cause a significant increase in attendance numbers and will be used again this year.

The Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation is a charitable, non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance public awareness and support of and for the arts in Mesquite. GMAF is supported in part by public funding for the arts through the Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information or to make a donation to GMAF contact Maggie Calhoun at 1-360-904-1090 or visit