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Hancock and Student Ticket Subsidy Arts Grants

The A.H. and E.P. Hancock Fine Arts Trust Fund

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*In 1989, the Paris Special School District received a generous gift, which is still giving to the PSSD students over three decades later. It all started back in 1902 when Azariah Hancock sold the best spot on his farm, a hilltop site of an acre and a half in the southeast corner of the farm near Mineral Wells Avenue in Paris, TN. He did this to provide land for a new school to be built when it was expressed that Paris needed a new school. The school built there became Fairview School, which originally operated as an elementary school and later was a PSSD kindergarten. After the building became vacant, a proposed new shopping center was desired for the spot. But, thanks to a clause that Azariah Hancock had put in the original deed, the land was sold and the money was donated to a trust fund.

Azariah's deed stated that if "at any time for any reason it shall cease to be used for a public school house the title shall be vested in a board of trustees and their successors, elected by patrons of the school at this place, to be used for private schools, moral and literary meetings. . ." The 45 known heirs of Mr. Hancock and his wife, Parilee, were spread out all over the country. They all stood to benefit from the $129,600 sale of the property, but instead they all showed a remarkable sense of philanthropy. They established the A.H. and E.P. Hancock Fine Arts Trust Fund to benefit and provide PSSD students with cultural and moral programs and activities.

The Hancock Trust Fund Advisory Committee meets annually to establish the requests for the arts programs from each of the three PSSD schools. Then, one or more of the heirs presents the requests to the final Hancock Board meeting for final approval. Programs that have been approved in the past have consisted of everything in the arts from ballet, opera, story telling, and orchestra concerts.  Over sixty-nine thousand dollars has been donated for the programs to the PSSD schools since 1989!

The students in the PSSD are so fortunate to have the Hancock Trust Fund. Not only do the students get to experience the fine arts in a way that many people never get to in a small town such as Paris, but they also gain a sense of respect and admiration for the arts. They learn about the appropriate behavior that is expected of an audience. The music teachers are thankful for this trust fund as it helps to reinforce the concepts and skills that we teach every day. We are so grateful that our students get to experience much of the music that we just tell them about.

·          Much of the information above was taken from The Inkwell magazine, September 1989 issue, page five.


The Ticket Subsidy Program is another important way that PSSD students get to experience and enjoy professional arts performances. Funded by the Tennessee Arts Commission through the support of the Tennessee General Assembly, this annual grant provides ticket subsidy funds to arts and cultural events for public school students in West Tennessee. Some 83,000 students were served last year through this invaluable program. 

The programs listed below are funded from both the Hancock Fund and the Ticket Subsidy.  Rhea School staff and students are grateful!


W.G. Rhea's Hancock and Arts Commission Programs

Scheduled for the 2023-2024 School Year


  • The Brightside Theater is coming to KPAC to perform The Little Mermaid play for us in April.
  • Each grade will have a visiting professional artist to teach them an art project in STEAM in the spring.
  • Our annual Elegant Dinner is scheduled for March 21.  Students will dress up for lunch and enjoy live classical music in the lunchroom provided by Grayson Pate, pianist.