The Leadership Columbia Class of 2017 is a group of 58 emerging and existing leaders in the region, who are dedicated to bettering themselves and their community. The 10-month skills-building program provides an educational experience with a strong emphasis on social and community awareness, while challenging the candidates to step out of their comfort zones and become involved in Columbia.
The Leadership Columbia Advisory Board, an alumni-based committee, organizes nine full-day class days, an orientation and a two-day retreat for the class. These class days focus on timely topics in our region ranging from economic development to criminal justice.
On Tuesday, November 8, current LC17 candidate Todd Hudak wrote a post detailing his experience during the class’ Arts & Culture Day:
One of the reasons I applied to the Leadership Columbia program was to learn more about what our city has to offer. I already knew the Midlands has a thriving arts and entertainment scene. But I didn’t realize just how vibrant our cultural community is until attending Arts and Culture class day on Nov. 8.
The overriding theme of the day was to get class members out of our comfort zones. It’s safe to say this goal was accomplished! We began at the Columbia Museum of Art with a session on effective public speaking. The class stood and performed vocal exercises as we learned about different voice types.
We heard presentations by local leaders of the arts community, including representatives from the Columbia Museum of Art, the Free Times newspaper and One Columbia, an organization that promotes the arts.
Speakers talked about the multitude of activities on a given weekend in Columbia: music festivals, art exhibits, concerts, plays, farmers markets and so much more. “If you say there’s nothing to do in Columbia, then you’re not paying attention,” was a common refrain.
Did you know there’s a place where you can suggest improvements to the Midlands? What’s Next Midlands is an idea hub that inspires community action. Anyone can submit and vote on ideas on the group’s website.
During lunch, the class was treated to a soul-stirring performance by the Benedict College Gospel Choir. It’s wonderful to see so much young musical talent right here in Columbia.
At Trustus Theatre, Emile DeFelice described the founding of Soda City market. He said 1,000 people move to the Midlands each month. The market has grown with the community and is held each Saturday on Main Street, rain or shine.
Sticking with the “out of your comfort zone” theme, Vicky Henderson of Trustus led the class in several improvisation exercises. I didn’t know that improv skills could be useful in the business world, but I do now.
We learned how hospitality tax dollars are collected and allocated to support the arts. The day ended with a trip to Studio Cellar, where the class created paintings for the Adolescent Recovery Center.
Arts and Culture day opened my eyes to many local opportunities that I didn’t know existed. I’m proud that the arts will be a central part of our class project.
Todd Hudak, Leadership Columbia Class of 2017