10 questions with...Lois Brace

10 questions with...Lois Brace
Dave Faries

Lois Brace surrounds herself with art in all its forms of expression. She can’t help it, really. She has a degree in English and a graduate degree in Fine Arts. Brace also sits on the Missouri Arts Council board and is a member of organizations such as the American Association of Community Theatre. Oh, and she serves as executive artistic director for the Presser Arts Center in Mexico.
She is part of a team of people that bring music, stage productions, dance, art, educational programs and more to the region. Last month Presser hosted its first play with a live audience since the pandemic. This weekend the facility opens its first art exhibition in a year.

1. What’s it like bringing Presser back to life?

It’s noisy. It’s been really quiet for way too long. This place was meant to have activity.

2. Has it been difficult planning activities?

We look two years out. We started planning in 2019. We pushed what we had planned for 2020 into 2021. So a lot of planning had been done.

3. So this really upsets your schedule.

Yeah, it sure does. Everything we had planned for the Missouri bicentennial has been kicked to the curb.

4. How did all the summer camps come about?

The first we ever did was a theater camp. What’s the one [sings] “Seventy-six trombones led the big parade.” Music Man. It grew to two and then three, and then art camp. In 2020 we planned 22 camps in eight weeks. We had to give a lot of money back.

5. How badly did the pandemic hit you financially?

2020 ...[sighs]. It’s a little complicated. The best thing that happened was the CARES act. Had it not been for CARES support we would have had to close our doors.

6. What did you do during the shut down?

We cleaned and reorganized and inventoried and made access a priority. Richardson Hall has been partially renovated as a working space.

7. Do you have to be an artist to hold your position?

No. This position requires someone with great vision for the arts. We reach beyond Audrain County to Fulton, Columbia, Bowling Green, Hannibal. So someone with a lot of energy.
8. It sounds tiring.

It is. It’s a great workout.

9. Do you have time to take part in classes?

Almost all of them. That’s one of the great pleasures. We’re all artists here, so we get grumpy when we don’t create.

10. What’s your favorite art form?

Mine is theater. I love great big musicals. I love to direct, to see an audience react. It’s the best.



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