Newly-launched initiative works to increase cultural experiences at Missouri festivals

Three state agencies are teaming up to bring enhanced cultural experiences to festivals across the state.

Missouri Humanities Executive Director Ashley Beard-Fosnow says the newly-launched “Horizons” initiate hopes to encourage in-state travelers and out-of-state visitors to experience culture, art, and the humanities at Missouri events, festivals, and institutions. 

“Missouri Humanities partnered with Missouri Arts Council and the Missouri Division of Tourism to band together and encourage festivals that are already in existence to inject quality arts and humanities activities into them or to think of ways to beef up some of those cultural offerings at activities that are happening all over the state.”

Beard-Fosnow says the plan is to inject quality arts and humanities activities into existing programs. 

“Their thought is how do we drive visitors from 50 miles or more away to these communities. Not only to partake in these festivals or activities but also to stay the night or to visit restaurants or museums and other cultural institutions throughout these communities to bolster tourism.”

The cohorts in the initiative will meet throughout the year to launch and spark new ideas and partnerships, with assistance from the state. 

“We’re going to offer a grant to help them supplement their humanities-based content but then the cohort is going to melt, and they’re going to swap ideas and best practices and think, if the Division of Tourism is promoting our event, it’s going to be bigger than it’s ever been before and so how do we accommodate those logistics.”

In its pilot year, the initiate chose nine organizations to act as one cohort.  Members will cross promote each other’s events.  Beard-Fosnow says they focused on established events that are spread out across the state and throughout the year.

The first event takes place September 24-25 in Carl Junction with their annual Bluegrass Festival.  The remainder of the events take place next year.  Two of the events are in mid-Missouri, including the For the For People Pow Wow in Jefferson City and the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia.

Beard-Fosnow says the initiative could make Missouri a national leader in cultural heritage offerings.

“I think that Missourians are hungry for these types of experiences, like we’re kind of moving beyond just pure entertainment. We want life-changing experiences that enrich our lives in deep and meaningful ways.”

Beard-Fosnow says the Tourism Department will assist the cohort with marketing and promotion, Missouri Humanities will provide grants for humanities-based activities, and the Missouri Arts Council will offer assistance with insight and logistics. 

To learn more about the initiative and their upcoming schedule of events, visit https://mohumanities.org/horizons/#:~:text=Horizons%20is%20designed%20to%20encourage,Missouri%20events%2C%20festivals%20and%20institutions