Name: Lois Brace
Position: Executive/Artistic Director
Organization: Presser Arts Center –
Time in current position: 11 years
Location: Mexico, MO

To gain a better understanding about her leadership, MACAA posed the following questions to Lois…


What is the most rewarding part of working in the arts, or your organization specifically?

I get to see lives change, and effected, by the power of the arts. Young teens find confidence to express themselves, adults learn how to take direction for the first time or develop assertiveness to give direction, seniors discover listeners, and young children find parameters and limits. Parents of family members comment on the noticeable changes in the participant, as to they are more relaxed, more comfortable with who they are, they laugh more and talk more, and they say they are just more happy.  Most of our participants find happiness, I know that’s a loose term, but there’s a degree of appreciation associated with it. When participants learn about the amount of work that is required for a final product like a stage production, they in turn develop a higher degree of appreciation. Studies have shown that happiness derives from gratitude and appreciation. I just love being around mostly happy people that are in a constant state of creativity! It’s the best job in the World!!! Shhhshhh…Don’t tell anybody…


What is the favorite program/service your organization offers? 

Currently our most POPULAR program is our Summer Camps program. We are offering 15 camps in 8 weeks. for 2019. These camps are for ages 5-100. They cover Art, Music, Theatre, Film, Circus Arts, Culinary Arts, Fiber Arts and Dance. We are a bit busy during the summers but it’s a well-oiled machine and our communities support them. We get our best programming ideas out of the successes of our camps.


What community philosophy do you feel is key to success?

We have found that polling our people is key to successful programs. We ask the communities we serve what they want, what can we offer to support them, and what will they support? We try to block the idea-makers that want to give our region what they think they SHOULD have, and those that only want to give our region what we currently have. If we just LISTEN to our region and give them what they want we all succeed!

We are also always looking for partnerships. When we combine our resources and pool our talents it becomes “regional” and less one population specific.


What characteristics do you feel leaders must have?  

Of course, Listening is the largest part of my job. If I just listen to our Board of Directors, participants and patrons my work becomes a matter of servanthood and not a chaotic mess of vanity.  I have found that recording conversations will sometimes add great insight to a meeting, allowing time to digest words and ideas has often created greater commitment to the work and offers more insight to others’ ideas.

Promotions derive from passion, so I make sure I take the time to participate personally in the arts we offer because staying creative keeps us fresh and relevant.

Networking. Staying abreast of what is happening in the state and the nation also keeps us fresh in the arts. The arts are a small community, so talking to others in our field helps tremendously, with staying on top of trends and income generators.


Phone: 573-581-5592 or 573-253-6870
Email: [email protected]