The Sedalia City Council heard the annual report from the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation during Monday’s meeting, and Foundation President Kathleen Boswell said the group “has some excitement for the future.”
The last year and a half introduced some tough times to the ragtime organization, including the death of former Director Tabitha Lazenby and the discovery another former director, Kyle Siegel, was misusing Foundation funds. Boswell acknowledged the rough situations, but also said the board is looking to introduce new ideas to keep the organization and the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival moving forward.
“I don’t like for things to fail on my watch, and this is too important of an activity for the City of Sedalia; I’m not going to let it fail,” Boswell told council. “We’ve always been a working board, we’ve not been shy about rolling up our sleeves and doing this stuff. So we all pitched in. … Change is not easy, but we thought this was a good place to be making some changes, to not be on automatic pilot and do things the way we always have.”
Boswell noted several new endeavors for SJIRF, including working with marketing students at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg to create a social media plan to attract a new younger audience and two exhibits that will soon open in Sedalia.
“We’ll have space for an office there and the back part of the lobby is now going to be a permanent museum for Scott Joplin and the music,” she explained. “We want to become a year-round tourist destination for ragtime. We don’t want to be just the week we do the festival.”
An exhibit will also be housed for a year to 18 months at the Katy Depot, depicting the story of Sedalia in the 1880s and what brought Scott Joplin to the city.
Along with the Foundation board, Boswell said Larry Melton, who helped with the festival during its first two events in the 1970s, has volunteered countless hours to assist in preserving Sedalia’s ragtime history. Boswell said he has been going through documents and photos, scanning them to create a digital database and then preserving the items on archiving paper.
“What we hope is that people who want to study this firsthand will be able to come here to Sedalia and see the actual stuff,” Boswell said.
The annual Artist-in-Residence week-long event will begin Feb. 5, with Jeff Barnhart touring area schools, including Bunceton for the first time. Boswell said the Foundation is working on sending curriculum materials to teachers beforehand to help them teach students about Scott Joplin and ragtime.
Boswell presented the organization’s funding proposal to council, asking for $18,000 from the City of Sedalia, which she said will go toward purchasing insurance and renting/tuning pianos in the downtown area of the June 1-4 music festival. Council will review the request at a later date.
The festival’s entire budget is $116,000, which includes funding from the city, Missouri Arts Council, Sedalia Tourism Commission and private donors.
During the meeting council also:
• Approved a proposal for $10,000 and an ordinance approving and accepting an agreement with Davey Resource Group for a tree inventory of approximately 1,897 City right-of-way trees.
According to information in the meeting packet, this expense is covered by a Missouri Department of Conservation TRIM grant. The City’s match share is $3,650. Of the match, $150 will be in cash and $3,500 will be in-kind labor. This is the sixth year the City has received this grant.
• Approved an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 10383, which authorized the acceptance of a quit claim deed from Pettis County for sections of Main Street and Oak Grove Lane and the acceptance of those streets for city maintenance. According to the meeting packet, the ordinance will be reintroduced to council when the county is able to submit the necessary paperwork.
All members were present.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.