Marie Nau Hunter receives 2010 Missouri Arts Award

Thursday, February 18, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Marie Hunter, manager of the Office of Cultural Affairs, has received a 2010 Missouri Arts Award for her leadership.

Mayor Darwin Hindman recognized Hunter at Monday's City Council meeting.

Hunter didn't know she had been nominated for the award.

"I was completely surprised ... very honored," she said.

Hunter joined the city's Office of Cultural Affairs in 1998. "Columbia is the only city in the state of Missouri to have the Office of Cultural Affairs as part of its city government," she said.

Hunter oversees the city's public art program and its arts funding, and she facilitates the activities of the Commission on Cultural Affairs and its related committees.

"There are not many places you can go in Columbia and not see Marie's work," Hindman said at the council meeting.

Hunter's management of the Percent for Art program played a part in her nomination.

Columbia is one of only two Missouri cities to have a Percent for Art program, which dedicates to public art an amount equal to 1 percent of the cost of major public building projects in that particular city.

"In those cases, we manage that 1 percent and work with the artist or artists to place our work at that site," Hunter said.

Porter Arneill runs the other Percent for Art program in Kansas City. He nominated Hunter for the arts council award.

"I admire her leadership and her professionalism," Arneill said. "She's absolutely passionate, and what she has accomplished in Columbia is nothing short of remarkable."

Arneill said Columbia's cultural affairs and arts programs rival those of much larger cities.

Columbia also budgets money every year for arts organizations' programs. Hunter said it is the only Missouri city that does so. It is important to maintain public funding for the arts so that all citizens and schools have access to cultural resources, Hunter said.

The Missouri Arts Council honored Hunter and five others at the Missouri Arts Awards ceremony on Feb. 10 in Jefferson City. Around 300 people attended, awards coordinator Virginia Sander said.

"We are excited to once again honor those individuals, organizations and communities that continually contribute to the arts in Missouri," Beverly Strohmeyer, executive director of Missouri Arts Council, said.

The Missouri Arts Council initiated the Missouri Arts Awards in 1983 to honor those in the arts industry for their "lasting and profoundly positive effects upon the cultural climate of our state." Winners are chosen by an independent panel of representatives of Missouri's arts community, according to the council's Web site.


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