ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A panel of community volunteers will discuss how to incorporate storytelling into cultural heritage tourism projects at the Missouri History Museum at Forest Park, St. Louis, on May 5.

University of Missouri Extension sponsors the free event. Participants will explore the link between history, culture, art and economic development from Lexington community members who helped create the “Legends of Lexington” audio tour, says MU Extension community arts specialist Lee Ann Woolery.

The MU Extension Community Arts Program and members of the Lexington community worked in partnership to create an audio tour of Lexington to brand it as a destination for tourists and artists. The history and architecture tour boosts tourism dollars, encouraging visitors to stay longer, buy fuel, eat at local restaurants and consider the town’s many bed-and-breakfasts, says Woolery. During the two-year program, an oversized printed map of the town’s historic sites was developed to complement the audio tour. 

Professional storytellers Carol Shelton and Larry Brown will share their talents, and Missouri history scholar Jody Sowell and MU Extension Community Arts Program faculty will participate. There will be a 90-minute panel discussion on best practices and guidelines for developing and producing audio cultural heritage tourism projects.

Woolery recommends the event for people involved in economic development, tourism, culture, history or the arts including tourism directors, city managers, chamber of commerce directors, librarians, theater directors, parks and recreation directors, cultural affair directors, and educators. Others who might find it of interest include artisans, craftspeople, historians, architects, community activity coordinators and agribusiness entrepreneurs.

Lexington was the site of a pilot project that used the resources of MU Extension, the MU School of Music and other partners to enhance the quality of life for residents and create an economic boost through community development.

The event will take place in the AT&T Foundation Multipurpose Room at the Missouri History Museum, Lindell and DeBaliviere avenues in Forest Park, St. Louis. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended. Contact Woolery at wooleryl@missouri.edu to register.

For more information about MU Extension’s Community Arts Program, go to http://extension.missouri.edu/communityarts.

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