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Marilyn Alms recently participated in a community scholars workshop sponsored by the Missouri Folk Arts Program (MFAP), November 11-13, 2010 in downtown West Plains, Missouri. The statewide arts service organization, which identifies, documents, and presents Missouri traditional arts, is building a statewide network of community scholars. Participants were selected based on their interests and experience in documenting community arts, promoting local culture, and sharing Missouri’s traditions with a wide audience. Fourteen citizens attended the intensive workshop, the first in a series. Additional workshops are scheduled for 2011 in St. Louis and Springfield.
Lisa Higgins, director of the Missouri Folk Arts Program, said: “The West Plains workshop was a great kick off for this project. If the participants in the upcoming workshops are as enthusiastic and knowledgeable as this group, we can build a much stronger and broader network for the folk and traditional arts. And, through that network, workshop participants can both strengthen their community-based projects and more widely promote Missouri’s rich cultural heritage.”
The curriculum for the West Plains workshop was specifically crafted for the south central Ozark region of Missouri. Topics included defining and identifying local traditions; documenting traditions with photos, video, and audio; and developing public presentations for local audiences. Workshop presenters included Matt Meacham, folklorist for the West Plains Council on the Arts and Ozark Action, Inc; Marideth Sisco, Ozarks community scholar, journalist, and musician; and Jackson Medel, a contributor to the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.
During the retreat, participants also gained hands-on experience in the field. They used equipment to document local events, places, and artists, including the local Veterans Day Parade, Ozark stone buildings, a group of long rifle builders, and a music jamboree. The event was co-hosted by Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Ozark Action, Inc., and the West Plains Council on the Arts and was supported with grants from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Mrs. Alms is an employee of the City of Ava and Vice-President of the Douglas County Historical & Genealogical Society.