Strohmeyer takes position at Missouri Arts Council

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Beverly Strohmeyer has been selected as the new executive director of the Missouri Arts Council; the state's top grantmaking agency for the arts.

Strohmeyer has 22 years experience in arts administration including 17 years associated with the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau.

Strohmeyer said she is excited about the new position but knows it will be fraught with difficulties. "It's both an honor and a privilege," she said. "I'm pleased that [economic development director Greg Steinhoff] decided to appoint me to this position. It's been a challenge during the last year to serve as interim director. We've had budget cuts, new council members, we've been trying to make sure that the programs we have stay in place, with all this it's been difficult to initiate any new programs."

Strohmeyer said the council's current budget is just under $3 million, or approximately half of what it was in 2001. The MAC was zero-funded by the state during fiscal years 2004 and 2005 and will receive $500,000 from general revenue taxes in 2006. The MAC also receives $500,000 annually from the National Endowment for the Arts.

"We are trying hard to get our funding restored, and the way to do that is by encouraging constituents to advocate directly to legislators and getting board members to contact the legislature," said Strohmeyer. "I feel that public funding for the arts is as important as public funding for any other service the state provides. We obviously want it to be given an equally high priority."

Strohmeyer said her proudest achievement during her time in Cape Girardeau was helping to transform the annual Christmas Bazaar from an event that raised $1,000 to one raising more than $50,000 with locations at both the Osage Community Centre and the Show Me Center. She said that one of her highest priorities is to spread arts programs in rural areas. "I'd really like to get arts council funding for every legislative district in the state," she said.

Strohmeyer will also serve on the board of directors for the Mid-America Arts Alliance with representatives from five other states.

The board of the MAC consists of 15 volunteer citizens from across the state.

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