Columbia wins notice as ‘creative community’

The arts are seen as adding to civic and tourism growth.
Sunday, November 5, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:31 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

With so many galleries, festivals, plays and music around town, the arts seem to be everywhere in Columbia.

The Missouri Arts Council must think so, too. Last week, the council named Columbia the first recipient of its “creative community” award.

“We’re so pleased and proud; it’s really fun to be the first community recognized,” said Marie Hunter, manager of the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “This really speaks to the strength of the arts in Columbia.”

A committee appointed by the council looked for a city that uses the arts to promote tourism, economic and civic growth and to attract new businesses or residents, said Beverly Strohmeyer, executive director of the Missouri Arts Council.

“The committee looked for total service and contribution of the arts to the community,” Strohmeyer said. “It’s important to recognize communities that are using the arts to foster economic development.”

To apply, Columbia sent brochures about art programs and a two-page ­narrative describing what is so innovative about the town, Hunter said. The application mentioned the more than

$1 million in city funds that have gone to visual, performing and literary arts programs.

“The fact Columbia even has an office of cultural affairs sets it apart from other communities around the state,” she said.

The Missouri Arts Council, a division of the state’s Department of Economic Development, was established “in 1965 to encourage and stimulate the growth, development and appreciation of the arts in Missouri and to help provide direction in policy making and programmatic oversight,” according to a Missouri Arts Council press release.

Every year, it chooses three individuals, one art institution and one foundation for its Missouri Arts Awards. The awards will be presented in a ceremony at 2 p.m. Feb. 7, 2007, at the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City.

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