35-year arts veteran to take helm as founding director steps down
One Columbia for Arts and Culture, the nonprofit arts agency for the City of Columbia, has hired Margie Johnson Reese — an arts management professional with 35 years of experience who has led arts projects in Dallas, Los Angeles and West Africa — as interim executive director.
Reese will serve in an interim capacity beginning April 1. She replaces founding executive director Lee Snelgrove, who has accepted the position of arts and culture manager at Richland Library, where he will lead efforts to raise the visibility of the arts throughout the library system and Richland County.
“It has been an honor to work with Columbia’s many talented artists and arts organizations in increasing the vibrancy and broad recognition of the city’s cultural community,” said Snelgrove, who has led One Columbia since 2013. “One Columbia is stronger than ever, and I’m excited to see a new leader build on the progress that we’ve made over the last ten years.”
During his time as executive director, Snelgrove established One Columbia as a vital resource for the city and for the local arts community, particularly in the area of public art projects. Over the past decade, the organization facilitated 60 public art projects, created a poet laureate position for the city, established the 1013 Co-Op cultural space in North Columbia, developed the Amplify cultural plan and launched the Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award.
One Columbia’s efforts were recognized recently with the 2022 Governor’s Award for the Arts, the highest statewide honor for achievement in the arts.
“We are forever grateful for the progress made under Lee’s leadership,” said Kristin Morris, One Columbia board president. “He has been an important voice in the local arts community, and the city is better off for the tireless leadership he has shown.”
As interim director, Reese will bring steady leadership to the organization and assist in its search for a permanent director. She brings a deep understanding of the mission of One Columbia, having already worked with the organization in developing its Amplify plan, which calls for a citywide policy to set priorities and guidelines for public funding of the arts.
“It’s been my joy to work with Lee and the artists and arts groups in Columbia for the past several years,” Reese said. “I’m honored to have been asked by the board to provide guidance during this period of transition to help keep the momentum moving forward.”
With One Columbia’s success so far — and numerous projects in development — the organization is positioned to play a key role in the next phase of growth in the city’s cultural sector, advancing policies that strengthen arts organizations, boost tourism, support local artists, encourage investment and promote equity.