Creative Columbia: Cultural Plan for Columbia

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 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.

Since 1993, 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.

The report identified four primary objectives, Arts Education, Arts Business, Arts Visibility and Arts Policy, that guided the Office of Cultural Affairs and the city’s Commission on Cultural Affairs.  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 revision was 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.

In keeping with our cultural planning foundation, the OCA developed a strategic plan that expanded upon the aforementioned areas as well as addressed key objectives located in the City of Columbia’s strategic plan to ensure better implementation and success.  

Office of Cultural Affairs – Strategic Plan

Mission Statement:  The Office of Cultural Affairs creates an environment where artists and cultural organizations thrive by advancing and supporting the arts for the benefit of the citizens of Columbia.

Vision Statement:  The Office of Cultural Affairs will be recognized as a national leader in fostering a vibrant, creative community that nurtures the vitality visibility and accessibility of the arts in Columbia.

City of Columbia and the Office of Cultural Affairs Core Values:

  • Customer Service – We exist to provide the best possible service to all customers.
  • Communication – We listen to our customers and respond with clear, compassionate, and timely communication.
  • Continuous Improvement – We value continuous improvement through planning, learning, and innovative practices.
  • Integrity – We expect our employees to be ethical, honest and responsible.  Our customers deserve nothing less.
  • Teamwork – We achieve results through valuing diversity and partnerships within our own organization and the community.  Each person’s contribution is critical to our progress.
  • Stewardship – We develop and empower our employees to serve the community to the best of their ability.  We are responsible with the resources the community entrusts to us.

Core Competencies:

  • Passion for the arts
  • Knowledgeable resource
  • Effective arts advocates
  • Ensure accessibility

Strategic Priorities:

  • Arts Education – Provide access to arts education to the citizens of Columbia.
  • Economic Development – Support the creative industry to stimulate economic development and job creation in Columbia.
  • Visibility – Use innovative marketing to encourage community-wide awareness, participation and investment in the arts.
  • Advocacy – Influence public policy and resource allocation decisions that affect the Columbia arts community.
  • Accessibility – Expand opportunities for all citizens to experience the arts.
  • Financial stability – Meet the financial needs of the city’s arts community and the Office of Cultural Affairs through revenue growth and efficient use of resources.

Percent for Art

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. 

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.

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.