COLUMBIA — The Office of Cultural Affairs moved into its new home at the Walton Building on Friday.
The Office of Cultural Affairs, formerly located at the Gentry Building on 1 S. Seventh St., now shares space with the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Columbia Chamber of Commerce at 300 S. Providence Road.
"The idea is to create more cultural tourism," said Chris Stevens, manager of the Office of Cultural Affairs. "And to be closer to the Convention and Visitors Bureau will allow us to collaborate easier and allow us to use resources that the (visitors bureau) has to help promote the arts as a tourist attraction."
The Office of Cultural Affairs and the Convention and Visitors Bureau have collaborated in the past on such events as Art in the Park and First Night, and even the Gallery Guide for museums, galleries and visual art opportunities in Columbia.
"It's a pretty good working relationship," said Amy Schneider, director for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. "If you think about it, the Office of Cultural Affairs' mission is to build internally the city of Columbia and its culture. The Convention and Visitors Bureau's mission is to go outside and promote the city of Columbia. It's just a great working relationship that will only strengthen with the proximity of the offices."
Even though the departments are now in the same building, they are not merging.
"We are still two separate entities of the city of Columbia, and we have separate missions," Stevens said.
No physical changes will be made to the Walton Building. Stevens said everything should pretty much stay the same, other than getting used to a different space.
Staff from the two offices aren't sure what projects they might collaborate on in the future, but Stevens and Schneider — who are both relatively new to their jobs — said they hope that once everything settles down, they'll be able to get together and make some long-range plans.
"I think it is a little bit of a tighter squeeze over here space-wise," Stevens said. "But in the long run, it's going to be good for us to have a good partnership with (the visitors bureau)."