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PYSK: Marie Nau Hunter

Manager, City of Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs

AGE: 37

JOB DESCRIPTION: Responsible for the programs and services of the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, including funding of local arts organizations, the Percent for Art program and the Columbia Festival of the Arts.



EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in art history and archaeology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Member of MU’s Arts and Sciences Alumni Association Board; regional vice president of Missouri Citizens for the Arts; advisory board member of the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education; member of the Columbia Public Library Art Committee; member of the Mid-Missouri Tourism Council; member of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce; past board member of the Central Missouri Humane Society.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Started out leaning toward graphic design, including a summer job in the art department at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield while in college. My focus turned to museum work and included nearly four years at MU’s Museum of Art and Archaeology while I was getting my graduate degree. After a year in fund-raising at KBIA, I started with the city, first as a cultural program assistant, then moving to cultural program specialist and eventually being appointed manager of the Office of Cultural Affairs in 2000.

A COLUMBIA BUSINESSPERSON I ADMIRE: Sorry, I can’t just choose one. Betty Wilson for her achievements as a very capable and intelligent woman and for her outstanding leadership as a long-time arts volunteer. Cindy Mustard for the incredible good she does for the community and her forever dedication to the arts. Eliot Battle for his personal and professional achievements, positive outlook and commitment to doing the right thing.

WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: Art, art, art. It is beautiful, intriguing, interesting, inspiring, exciting, captivating, important, invigorating and absolutely essential.

IF I WEREN’T DOING THIS FOR ALIVING, I WOULD: Certainly do something arts-related. When I was in college, I always thought I’d end up working as a curator at some fabulous art museum in a big city.

BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME: Balancing work and family. It’s always a work in progress, but I think the following are all part of the equation: multi-tasking, good planning, lots of organization, having the ability to work fast, maintaining high standards, being OK with less sleep and keeping the long view.

A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: Implementing the Percent for Art project for the Wabash Station. Integrating new art by two very talented local artists, Don Asbee and David Spear, into the renovation of a historic building has been a lot of fun so far, and I feel certain that the end result will be very successful. Other favorites are completing the restoration of Columbia’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial last year, seeing our new gallery guide in print and packing boxes to move our offices to the city’s newly renovated Gentry Building last November (it is fabulous!).

WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFESSION: You are in it because you love it. There are long hours and many obstacles, chief among them convincing others that the arts are an industry and that the work is important and serious, but the end result is nearly always well worth it. The arts go hand in hand with fund-raising, so good writing skills (for grants) and the ability to crunch numbers (because you never have enough) are a must.

WHAT I DO FOR FUN: Pick berries, needlepoint, tend a little vegetable garden, write letters, spend time with my family, cook.

FAMILY: B.J. Hunter, husband; Robert Hunter, son; Rags, dog.


ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: The recent designation of Columbia as Missouri’s first “Creative Community” by the Missouri Arts Council. The award will be presented by the governor in February. The arts community as a whole shares in this award, of course, but I think that the city’s leadership in funding and supporting the arts played a very big role in Columbia being selected.

MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT I: Can tap dance and don’t like chocolate.

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