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Making our Community Better: Bucky Bowman, Stephanie Cramer and the G.O.A.T. Tour

The G.O.A.T. Tour (Greater Ozarks Arts Tour), administered by the Springfield Regional Arts Council, brings the visual and performing arts to communities throughout the 27-county area served by the Arts Council. Bucky Bowman was the first "shepherd" of the project, and Stephanie Cramer of the Arts Council now oversees it.

SOC THUR PM 12-9-2010RANDY: This afternoon on Sense of Community we’ll talk about the arts giving back to the community. The Greater Ozarks Arts Tour, or “G.O.A.T. Tour” as it’s known, travels annually to several communities in the 27-county region served by the Springfield Regional Arts Council, bringing both performing and visual arts to towns that might not seem them otherwise. It was originally suggested that I profile William Brandon “Bucky” Bowman, long-time Springfield educator and arts fundraiser, since he “shepherded” the G.O.A.T. Tour during its first four years. But as Bucky is the first to admit, it’s been a collaborative venture all along--and the idea did not originate with him!BUCKY: Actually, Gary Funk, then the head of the Community Foundation, and Andrew Baird, were the ones who designed this whole idea of the “G.O.A.T. Tour.” And I think they did it just to get back at me by calling it “GOAT!” (Randy laughs) SO they were the ones that got it started, and asked me to take it over and “shepherd” it, which I did for the first four years of its existence. But Randy, please understand there are TWO “goats.” One, a real, actual, fabricated “goat” called “Vincent Van Goat,” that was created by a small grant from the Community Foundation, overseen by Dr. Tom Russo at Drury and Todd Lowery, who manufactured this goat, computerized it, for elementary classrooms. So a little kid can climb up on the steps, get on the Goat, punch in the computer and they can study the life of a painter or a dancer or a singer, whatever. And those programs are consistently updated through the year. And it’s used all over the kingdom. I mean, it goes everywhere, all the time! So that is one “Goat”--that’s the physical “Goat.” The Greater Ozarks Arts Tour was to utilize basically the four historic performing arts organizations--the Symphony, the Ballet, the Regional Opera, and Little Theatre. And so, from 2004 through 2008, I toured entities of those groups around.RANDY: You personally took them around?BUCKY: Oh, yes. We would charter buses and we would go! So I have taken dancers and opera singers, for example, to Poplar Bluff; dancers to Stockton; the wonderful artist-painter Renee Allison to Mountain Grove for an exhibition of all of her work and a lecture on her work; took the Opera to Salem. So we’ve been everywhere, we’ve done everything. We probably did, I would say, somewhere between 16 and 20 outings out into the 27-county area that Springfield Regional Arts Council supervises.RANDY: What were your goals for this whole program?BUCKY: Really, to showcase the arts groups here in town, who are so fine. I mean, what other little burg-town of 150 thousand has all these wonderful production companies--be it dance, opera, ballet, orchestra, whatever--in addition to a bevy of magnificent (visual) artists?RANDY: The original Community Foundation grant was for four years and covered at least four performances every summer. When that grant ran out in September 2008, the Arts Council took over the G.O.A.T. Tour.BUCKY: Mercifully, all these people are willing to share their ability and talents. Collectively, the area became more arts-conscious, be that in the graphic arts or the performing arts.RANDY: Bucky Bowman says the upshot is that people from, for example, Mountain Grove or Seymour started coming here to Springfield in ever-greater numbers to attend performances and view art exhibits. Now the Arts Council has combined their four regional outreach programs, including the Claymobile, under the G.O.A.T. umbrella to aid in the marketing and funding of the programs, says Arts Council Director of Programs and Exhibitions Stephanie Cramer. She says the number of local groups involved in the tour has expanded beyond the original Little Theatre, Ballet, Symphony and Opera.STEPHANIE: Some of the different groups that are involved are the Messiah Project, the Mid-America Singers, the Skinny Improv. We also have an Artist-in-Residence, Mrs. Ann Meese, who was Superintendent of Catholic Schools for years and is a fabulous painter. She goes to the schools for a single day. And then, the Claymobile with Springfield Pottery. It really gives a chance for children to see artists who are successful, and it’s just fabulous, it really is.RANDY: For information call the Arts Council at 862-ARTS (2787) or visit www.springfieldarts.org.