Columbia arts scene is ‘jumping’
McCluer North High School, Florissant, Mo.
Fine and creative arts are so important to Ann Marie Long that she brought her 15-month-old son, Brome Gamble, to the MU Museum of Art and Archaeology on Wednesday.
Upcoming arts events
Kids’ World of Art Series
When: 2 to 3:30 p.m., July 22, July 29, Aug. 5 and Aug. 12,
Where: Museum of Art and Archaeology, Pickard Hall, MU
Mizzou New Music Summer Festival final performance
Featuring eight world premieres performed by
Alarm Will Sound, Alan Pierson, artistic director
When: 2 p.m., July 18
Where: Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, 203 S. Ninth St.
Admission: $15 adults, $10 students
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a musical
When: 8 p.m., July 22 and July 24; and 2 p.m. July 25
Where: Rhynsburger Theatre, Fine Arts Building, MU
Admission: $14 adults, $10 students
A quarterly event featuring art galleries and activities
When: 6 to 9 p.m., July 23
Where: Columbia Art League, 207 S. Ninth St., as well as 24 other art venues
Picasso at the Latin Agile, a comedy
When: 2 p.m., July 18 and Aug. 1; and 8 p.m. July 23, 29, 30, 31.
Where: Rhynsburger Theatre, Fine Arts Building, MU
Admission: $12 adults, $8 students
Boone County Fair
When: July 21 to 31
Where: Boone County Fairgrounds, 5212 N. Oakland Gravel Road, Columbia
Admission: $5 and children 6 and under free
Comedies in Concert
When: 8 p.m., July 20 and July 27
Where: Corner Playhouse, Fine Arts Annex, MU
“Persian Arms and Armor: A Hero’s Tradition” exhibit
When: Ongoing until July 30
Where: Museum of Anthropology, 100 Swallow Hall, MU
“Into the Woods,” an onstage performance
When: 2 p.m., July 18; 7:30 p.m., July 22, 23 and 24
Where: Columbia Entertainment Company Community Theatre, 1800 Nelwood Drive
Admission: $12 adults, $11 students
Open Mic Night
When: July 19
Where: The Blue Fugue, 120 S. Ninth St.
Long said she wants to “make art more valuable” to him at an early age. Brome has just started walking and has already been exposed to the “jumping” arts scene of Columbia, as museum volunteer Pam Springsteel described it.
Art “is a very important part of Columbia,” Springsteel said. “I think it is what attracts people to Columbia. There’s almost something to do every day related to the arts.”
The museum is located at Pickard Hall on Francis Quadrangle, at the corner of Ninth Street and University Avenue. Admission is free.
The museum had about 18,000 visitors in 2009, an increase of 1,000 visitors from the previous year, according to docent Barbara Fabacher.
“We are seeing more people (come to the museum),” Fabacher said. “We’re seeing a steady increase.”
Pat Ritchie, a member of the board of directors for the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, said, the art scene in Columbia is growing.
“Columbia is such a cultural town. It supports the arts: music, art and drama,” said Ritchie, who has lived in Columbia for more than 50 years.
The theater has been a contributing part of the Columbia arts scene for more than 80 years. In June, the Missourian reported that the theater has a $2.5 million debt from a restoration project completed in May 2008 that was meant to cost $6 million, but ended up being $10 million because of changes made to the original contract. The theater is also facing a possible $400,000 addition to the debt. The main contractor for the restoration project, Hubert Builders Inc., filed a lawsuit against the theater for unpaid bills. A ruling by an arbitration judge is expected on Aug 31.
A recent addition to Columbia’s arts scene is the first annual New Music Summer Festival, launched by the MU School of Music. The theater hosted the opening concert on July 13, which featured Alarm Will Sound.
Some Columbia residents are optimistic about the arts scene responding to the population growth. Jena Randolph said that new events such as the New Music Summer Festival will benefit the community and attract even more people.
“Art events always pull in a lot of people,” Randolph said. “It’s a big draw in for the town.”
Because MU dominates Columbia, arts venues in the rest of the town are often overlooked.
Junior Joshua Webster said that the arts events at MU and greater Columbia are “evenly matched” and “really great.”
“If you want to see it, you’re going to find it: tattooing, live shows, art galleries. It helps our city to thrive,” Webster said.
Also, as a music major who sings and plays the piano, Webster has had many opportunities to debut his talents around Columbia at open mic nights, coffee shops and bars.
Even though Columbia has an active arts scene, larger cities such as St. Louis and Kansas City still attract many Columbia residents.
Stella Read said, “I think there is enough (arts in Columbia), but we do like going to plays in St. Louis.”
Read and her husband, Rory Read, were able to stay in town to catch a Tuesday performance of “The Sudden Glide,” a new comedy by David Crespy. The show was part of the Summer Repertory Theatre “Comedies in Concert” series. The MU department of theatre and the Missouri Playwrights Workshop sponsor these shows at the Corner Playhouse, located at the MU Fine Arts Annex, on the northeast corner of University Avenue and Hitt Street.
Jim Miller, a professor of theatre at MU, was also in attendance and said there are “plenty of arts” available in Columbia for the growing population.
Columbia also has a range of art galleries. Among them is the Columbia Art League, a nonprofit organization that helps local artists showcase and sell their art. Its current exhibition is titled “The Visual World” and includes a variety of mediums, from a traditional ceramic bowl to a frame covered with Pez candy and Gummy Bears.
Charlotte Dean, a volunteer at the league’s shop, said, “I think there’s just a lot more interest in arts in general. Columbia is a progressive town.”