P.O. Box 6015
300 S. Providence
Columbia, MO 65205
"The arts are an important industry in Columbia. They employ, educate and entertain thousands of citizens and visitors and make our city a better place to live, work and play." - Mayor Bob McDavid
Art and culture are integral to the livability of our community. The diverse offerings of Columbia Missouri’s many arts organizations play an essential part in Columbia’s high quality of living and in maintaining a strong sense of civic pride. The city’s contribution to the arts through its own programs as well as in ongoing collaborations with so many local arts groups and individual artists makes Columbia stand apart from other Missouri communities.
By allocating city dollars in support of the arts and by having professional staff who pursue other avenues of funding and advocate on behalf of local artists, arts agencies and policies, Columbia remains a leader in the in the field. Proof of such is that Columbia garnered the state’s first ever “Creative Community” status in 2007, a designation made by the Missouri Arts Council and the Missouri Department of Economic Development and conferred by the Governor.
City funding to support the varied offerings of local arts organizations has been ongoing since the Office of Cultural Affairs was established in 1992. The sponsored performances, exhibits, classes, workshops and special events have benefited countless Columbians and visitors, young and old. Likewise, those dollars have worked their way back into the local economy through the many purchases of goods and services made by the sponsoring arts organizations and via the staff salaries paid. Such expenditures prove that the arts are, indeed, an industry.
Over the years, the city’s cultural plan has played a vital role in leveraging additional support for arts programs and services, particularly in the form of important funding from the Missouri Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
This report identifies the four main goal areas of the cultural plan that guide the Office of Cultural Affairs and the city’s Commission on Cultural Affairs. As with the previous revision, completed in 2005, this document significantly resembles the original plan drafted in 1993. At that time, the work to develop and adopt a formal plan represented an important and purposeful first step in defining goals, many of which have since been realized in the form of actual programs and services.
A 2005 review of the plan resulted in a consolidation of goal areas and included a thorough study of accomplishments to date. The work on this most recent revision is the culmination of a year-long effort to connect face-to-face with local arts groups, their key volunteers and diverse audiences, to strengthen current ties, develop new ones and expand the dialogue among groups. This version of Creative Columbia was adopted by the Columbia City Council, March 2011
Keeping this plan current is essential to maintaining a strong presence of art and culture in Columbia and to validating the programs of the Office of Cultural Affairs within city government. As with all city planning processes, this document remains a work in progress, with 2015 the expected date of the next significant revision.
The Percent for Art Program is a city initiative to provide greater access to the arts for diverse audiences in varied settings. Established by city ordinance in 1997, it is perhaps the most significant outgrowth of the Office of Cultural Affairs’ original cultural plan. Envisioned in that initial document, the concept developed into an established program that proves Columbia’s role as a statewide leader in arts programming. Columbia remains one of just two communities in Missouri to have an established Percent for Art program, and is the only one outside of a major metropolitan area.
The premise of Percent for Art is best illustrated in the ordinance that defines it. Interestingly, the policy resolution is not about “art for art’s sake,” rather it introduces the program as one that creates civic pride, promotes economic development and enhances the public welfare while improving and expanding the value and use of public buildings and facilities.
At the end of 2011, twelve large-scale site-specific public art projects have been completed or initiated in Columbia since the Percent for Art program was undertaken. To date, more than $750,000 has been allocated to these projects, the vast majority of which has taken the form of payments to individual artists. Often local contractors and suppliers are hired by the commissioned artists as they complete and install their work, further cementing the connection of art and commerce and the Columbia economy.
The tradition of pairing art with public buildings has a long history. Columbia has embraced that tradition through Percent for Art, transforming the city into a museum of sorts that includes art in and around many municipal facilities. That investment in site-specific art gets at the most basic and important premise of public art: that art needs to be a part of the every day experience for all to consider, contemplate and enjoy.