Mt. Vernon Arts Council receives No. 1 ranking from Missouri Arts Council

Steve Chapman

The Mt. Vernon Regional Arts Council was recently ranked No. 1 among arts councils which sought grants from the Missouri Arts Council. Karen Colton-Millsap, the council’s director, said the ranking came from their ability, as an all-volunteer body, to direct all of their resources towards promoting the arts.
“All of the money that we get goes to art programs,” she said. “Everything that we bring in goes strictly to the arts.”
When they applied for grants with the Missouri Arts Council, Millsap said they were up against larger, better-funded organizations, but the MVRAC stood out.
“They were looking for artistic programs, community involvement, and management of the grants,” she said. “We were up against a lot of larger and more organizations (with paid personnel).”
Because they were ranked highest among all arts councils seeking grants, the MVRAC was slated to receive a grant which would have doubled their current budget of about $13,000. However, due to a lack of funding, their grant was cut. Millsap said this was a bitter pill to swallow, especially since other arts councils received their funding because they had staff to support.
Despite this, Millsap said MRAC continues to support the arts in the area and give emerging artists opportunities to showcase their work.
“I think we’ve managed to do a lot,” she said. “We started with the Not So Square Art Festival, our first project. There are many artists in this whole area just dying to have opportunity. Once we got established, we drew in other (artists) in the region and other small towns. They traveled to come be involved in theater, community choir and art programs.”
Millsap stated artists never have to pay a fee to show their work at an event sponsored by the MVRAC, and if they sell a piece of work, they get to keep all of their money.
“We do not charge them any fees, ever,” said Millsap. “Not for membership, not for art. Everything that they get; we take no money from any artist. So, at an exhibit, if they sell, it all goes to them.”
The group continues to support more than 30 art workshops, exhibits, programs and classes a year, including the Freedom Endeavor, Studio 822, Corks and Canvas, Movies in the Park, the Keen Bean Concert Series, and Kids in the Attic Youth Theatre.
For more information about the Mt. Vernon Regional Arts Council, call (417) 461-0295, visit their Facebook page, or go to their website at


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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