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University of Missouri

The New Battle of Lexington

MU helps Lexington, Mo., vie for arts dollars.

Lexington, Mo.

A three-year MU Extension project puts emphasis on the arts in Lexington, Mo. Photo courtesy of Lexington Tourism Bureau.

Back in Civil War days, conflicts in Lexington, Mo., were North vs. South. These days, struggles there, as in many small towns, are about economics. The University of Missouri Extension Community Arts Pilot Project is boosting Lexington’s economy by making it attractive not only to artists but also to tourists who can purchase art and enjoy the town’s antebellum charm. The town of 4,500 about 45 minutes east of Kansas City boasts wineries and a downtown full of antique shops. Lexington is ripe for economic development through arts growth, says Lee Ann Woolery, project director. The two-year initiative allows Lexington to tap MU’s resources in music, theater, fine arts, film, journalism, architectural studies and art education. Faculty and students are helping locals develop tours of the historic community, which was the site of two Civil War battles. They will produce a map, a CD with original music and a graphic identity. Other plans call for promoting Lexington’s proximity to Kansas City to draw artists to the town’s large buildings, which make affordable studios and galleries.

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