Cultural Affairs group concerned about move

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | 7:25 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A move proposed as a compromise faced resistance at a meeting of the Commission on Cultural Affairs' executive committee Monday.

If the City Council approves the budget proposed by City Manager Mike Matthes, the Office of Cultural Affairs would share space with the Convention and Visitors Bureau at the Walton Building at 300 S. Providence Road.

Matthes initially proposed combining the two departments, but both cultural affairs and tourism bureau officials rejected the idea.

“Most people don’t like change,” said Matthes, adding that “there was a fear they would lose what they worked so hard to gain.”

Instead, Matthes is trying to create an environment where the two departments would interact “purposefully,” by having the cultural affair’s office move to the Walton Building.

But commission member Katherine Harris thinks Matthes is just trying to save face for failing to achieve the merger. At the commission meeting, Harris cited an article by Matthes in the Columbia Business Times in which Matthes wrote that he decided to recommend keeping the departments independent after hearing community concern.

“I think the staff has already been through a lot, and I don’t think it’s necessary to move them right now,” Harris said in an interview.

“They just moved into the Gentry Building not too long ago, and I think right now we need to focus on the search for a new manager,” she said.

The Office of Cultural Affairs moved to the Gentry Building at 1 S. Seventh St. in November 2006, according to a previous Missourian article.

Connie Kacprowicz, who also works in the Water and Light Department, has been serving as interim director of the cultural affairs office since March 14. The city on Friday posted a job announcement on its website for the permanent replacement.

Matthes expects to have a new manager hired by the end of November. He also expects the Office of Cultural Affairs to move to the Walton Building by then.

Matthes agreed that finding a new cultural affairs director is the highest priority but said culture affairs didn’t need to wait to find a manager before moving. “Things can happen in parallel,” Matthes said.

Kacprowicz and Harris said the Commission on Cultural Affairs has expressed concern about the amount of space available at the Walton Building.

Matthes said that's not an issue. "There is room. There's only three staff, and I've actually gone and seen the place," he said.

“We will need to find office furniture, but there’s plenty around,” he said.

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