Big Changes

Aug 22, 2020 | Blog






The Covid pandemic continues to redefine how we work, communicate and participate in the Arts. It has been a most difficult year for the arts industry as organizations, artists, and supporters struggle to adjust to new social distancing restrictions and safety protocols. While the virus has traumatically interrupted the once straightforward formula of presenting performances and the arts to a physical audience, the Columbia Festival of the Arts has been working towards creative ways to re-imagine how we experience the arts in 2020 and moving forward. The Festival enters its 34th year with an emphasis on hope, optimism, and healing. The driving forces now shift to presenting meaningful arts and culture experiences that embrace new media, collaborative partnerships, and community. 




Following the July 31st, 2020 retirement of Executive Director David Phillips, Columbia Festival of the Arts is pleased to announce an exciting new leadership team! Robert Neal Marshall, filmmaker and Executive Director of the Columbia Film Festival, takes the helm as the new Managing Director and Dave Simmons assumes the role of Director of Programming and Production. Together, Marshall and Simmons bring years of experience to the Festival, embracing community, diversity, new technologies and collaborative projects. 

As Managing Director, Marshall will provide overall artistic and business leadership, development, direct administration, and production into 2021.  “I am excited to expand this work and take on new challenges with our great community partners, corporate sponsors and donors helping to bring hope, diversity and creativity at this particularly difficult time.” says Marshall “The Arts make a difference.”

In his new position as Director of Programming and Production Dave Simmons will share responsibilities, with continuing oversight and development of engaging programming and cooperative ventures with Columbia Festival of the Arts partners.  Simmons says “I have always loved the community spirit inherent in the residents of Columbia and feel like it’s a special place to celebrate the best of arts and culture.”  (Photo: Columbia Film Festival 2019 L to R: Donald Imm, Kevin Spirtas, Anita Gillette, Robert Neal Marshall, Justin Scott Lawrence)




Visit our website at for all Festival Team Members and full bios of both Robert Neal Marshall and Dave Simmons





Not Just Knots FREE Virtual Knot Tying Workshop for Kids!

Now through August 24th join bumbling Pirate Professor Billy Bones on swashbuckling adventure created & performed by veteran NY actor David Engel.

All ages. View this fun and imaginative workshop from a computer, tablet, or phone – anyplace you can access the internet. There is no fee for this FREE workshop and no sign up required.  CLICK HERE TO WATCH NOW!



The 5th annual Women+ in Theatre Conference will be held on August 22, 2020. This year’s conference is virtual and FREE for all participants. They are excited to welcome Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi as our keynote speaker, discussing Theatre as an Agent for Change and Cultivating an Equitable Future. Additional sessions for the day include Meeting the Times, featuring panelists and small group discussion; a Designer Panel; Shirley’s Speed Networking; and Play Readings of selected plays from their 10-minute Play Contest. Registrants will also have the opportunity to participate in their Online Expo by sharing their contact information and links to online portfolios on their Exhibitors page. 



From our friends at Downtown Columbia Partnership Books In Bloom continues to present virtually through August 20th! Visit:



Thank you to the Horizon Foundation for their generous support.