The Lake Arts Council celebrates over 30 years of serving, enriching and educating the Lake of the Ozarks communities through the Arts.
What makes the Lake of the Ozarks a unique Midwestern playground? Lake area residents and visitors would name golfing, fishing, boating and dining at their top of their lists. However, many would also say arts and entertainment. One organization fits the bill for quality visual, performance and fine art in the area Lake Arts Council.
Their mission is to serve, educate and enrich the community through arts, and they have succeeded through its many programs, events and support groups. It all started with one vision, two women and a need at the Lake.
In May 1983, Helen McNally, activity director for Four Seasons Property Owners Association, was given an assignment to provide programs that would create a quality of life to interest the business and professional executives and their wives who were buying retirement homes in Four Seasons.
In 1982, McNally and Pat Tietjen formed the Lake Area Performing Arts Guild (LAPAG) in response to requests from residents here. Four Seasons became their sponsor and provided space and financial support for its first production at the Lodge of Four Seasons.
After turning over LAPAG to Pat, Helen moved forward with plans to create an Arts Council similar to one she had created in Kirkwood, Mo., before moving to the Lake. Four Seasons had been showing artists in their sales pavilion and residents were asking for cultural opportunities in the area. Working with a committee of interested local residents and art enthusiasts, Helen and her colleagues asked the Missouri Arts Council (MAC) to help from the Greater Lake Area Arts Council. Bylaws and constitutions were drawn up, based on MAC documents and a local attorney agreed to file for a 501.3 status and assist with federal and state tax numbers, pro bono. In May 1983, the Greater Lake Area Arts council (GLACC), a non-profit corporation, held their first meeting in Lake Ozark.
The concept was to create an area-wide umbrella organization to support all art forms and “to meet the need for a coordinating, educational and service organization to foster and promote the knowledge, practice and appreciation of all the arts.” Helen McNally served as the first president and a board of directors was composed of representatives from communities around the Lake.
The Lake Arts Councils first undertaking was a “Peoples Art of China” exhibit that was brought to the area with the help of the Jefferson City Arts Council, Washington University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis Asian Studies Department. It was held at the Lodge of Four Seasons, where a meeting room was turned into a beautiful gallery. The cultural experience that so many residents wanted was granted.
The GLACC started to gain support and respect, as well as expand upon their intriguing and artistic events. Other performances included the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, a performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (presented by the University of Nebraska Theater Department), Mid-Missouri Symphony Pops Concerts, Kansas City Symphony, The Nutcracker Ballet, Ballet Folklorico of Vera Cruz, Mexico, Buddy Rich Band, Artie Shaw Orchestra, puppet shows and many others.
Over the years, the Lake Arts Council has been instrumental in helping to establish many of the arts groups in the Lake area, which continue to flourish today. In 1987-99, the Lake Area Community Orchestra was formed; in 1988-89, the first annual Art Quest Exhibit was held and the Lake Jazz Band was organized; in 1993-95, the Greater Lake Area Chorale was established and the first Junior Duck Stamp contest was held, and in 1995-96, the Lake Area String Ensemble was organized.
In recent years, the Lake Arts Council has supported and helped to promote other support groups such as the Lake Area Photography Club, the National Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS), Lake Area Strings, Ozark Jazz Society, Lake of the Ozarks Blues Society, Lake of the Ozarks Writers Guild, Lake of the Ozarks Woodcarvers, Lake Area Society of the Moving Image and the Fiber Arts Guild. In 2013, the Lake Arts Council welcomed two a support organization – Sunrise Beach Little Theater.
While the Council has been successful in promoting the Arts throughout the Lake area through concerts, theatrical productions, art exhibits, festivals, competitions and other functions, a critical part of its mission also has been to educate elementary and secondary level students. Student art shows, poets-in-residence, summer drama camp, scholarship awards and education workshops have been some of the Councils youth-centered activities carried out in cooperation with the local schools.
In its endeavors to become a vital force in the Mid-Missouri art scene, to gain important financial support and to be recognized as the legitimate agent to enhance the aesthetic lifestyles of the Lake area, the Lake Arts Council has affiliated itself with many state and regional art councils and arts advocacy groups. Among these groups are the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, the Heartland Arts Fund, the Missouri Citizens for the Arts and the Missouri Association of Community Arts Groups.
Today, the Lake Arts Council continues to perpetuate the legacy of a professionally managed organization, dedicated to the furtherance of an aesthetic lifestyle in the Lake area. Under the capable leadership of the President, and a dedicated Board of Directors, the Lake Arts Council will continue to foster and promote the knowledge, practice and appreciation of the Arts and cultural heritage in the Lake area.
Fantastic art exhibits, orchestra and chorale performances, photography exhibits and contests, writing competitions, workshops, and book fairs, guest performers and so much more are in store for Lake area art lovers.
Today, the membership stands at about 200 and growing, both with business and individual supporters. Through community support and donations, it is the LAC’s future goal to be involved with a community building where artists can exhibit their art, musicians can have concerts and performing artists will have a theatre to entertain and “Keep the Arts Alive” in the Lake Area.
To learn more about the Lake Arts Councils history visit the Camden County Library in Camdenton and browse through its cataloged background in the reference section. For more information, call (573) 964-6366.
Compiled and written by Samantha Edmondson