Columbia residents discuss the future of arts in the community

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 | 11:11 p.m. CDT; updated 11:35 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Chris Stevens, the manager of the Office of Cultural Affairs in Columbia, speaks to community members at the Orr Street Art Gallery on Tuesday. Topics of conversation revolved around petitioning Missouri officials for arts funding and future goals for the local Columbia cultural arts community.

COLUMBIA— The Office of Cultural Affairs met with about 65 Columbia residents Tuesday night to discuss the state of theater, music and art in the city.

Every Tuesday at 7 p.m. Orr Street Studios has an event called Hearing Voices/Seeing Visions. This week was the 'voices' portion, and the studio invited Chris Stevens, the newly appointed manager of the Office of Cultural Affairs, to speak.


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“I thought ‘well what a great opportunity’,” Stevens said. “With me being the new guy, and sort of open the doors a little bit and get as many people as we can. And allows me to get some input from them as well.”

Discussion centered around improvements to Columbia's art community. Many residents expressed the need for a more efficient and wide-reaching way to promote events and to educate the community.

“I think getting butts in the seats is really important,” said Meg Phillips, a member of the local theater community. Phillips said although the production was successful, filling the seats is always a general concern.

Columbia resident Patricia Reed proposed an effort to integrate and promote the public’s love for sports with the lesser-known arts community. Reed suggested the Office of Cultural Affairs do an advertisement similar to a “Got Milk?” campaign, by dressing some of the athletes in tutus and saying “Got art?”

Resident Gail Lawrence suggested an outreach program to the community of students taking art classes to “get them started early” and help continue their love for art.

Catherine Parke, an artist renting a studio at Orr Street Studios said of arts in the community and arts in the daily life, “it’s part of the air we breathe, it’s the pool we swim in.”

Residents who have ideas and or concerns can contact Chris Stevens at



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