|Project:||2013 St. Louis Arts Awards|
|Organization:||Arts & Education Council of Greater St. Louis|
|Peter Martin and Dianne Reeves perform at 2012 St. Louis Arts Awards. Photo Credit: Suzy Gorman.|
It was a vision realized by only 11 other communities in the country in 1963. Arts advocacy and funding was still in its infancy. The National Endowment for the Arts would not exist for another two years. And yet, a handful of key St. Louis business leaders and prominent philanthropists stepped forward and worked tirelessly to create a united fund for the arts, a fund that would allow arts groups to concentrate on providing the best possible programs without spending all of their time, money, and energies on meeting bills for day-today operations.
The Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis (www.KeepArtHappening.org) will kick off its 50th anniversary celebration at its signature event, the annual St. Louis Arts Awards on Monday, January 21. Presented since 1992, this celebration recognizes those who have achieved a legacy of excellence in the arts in St. Louis, and organizations and businesses that enrich St. Louis’ arts and cultural community. Chuck Berry, often described as the poet laureate of rock and roll, will be feted with a repertoire of his infamous musical riffs and lyrical hits at the event. Berry is one of seven honorees who will be recognized at the awards ceremony. The list of previous honored individuals and organizations read like a Who’s Who of St. Louis’ rich artistic history, including Leonard Slatkin, Catherine Dunham, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Anheuser-Busch, Emerson, Wells Fargo Advisors and the Saint Louis Art Museum, to name a few.
“It’s just an incredible milestone to celebrate,” said Cynthia A. Prost, president of the Arts and Education Council since 2008. “A&E is fortunate to have long-time supporters who have continued to believe in our mission of arts advocacy. A thriving arts climate only strengthens the creativity, innovation and diversity necessary for a healthy, growing community where people love to live, work and play.”
Berry, 86, will receive the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts award. Billy Peek, who toured with Berry for years, will perform such classics as “Johnny B. Good,” “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Sweet Little Sixteen,” among others. In addition, dancers from MADCO and Common Thread Dance companies will perform excerpts from their recent world premieres that were commissioned by Dance St. Louis under the title, “New Dance Horizons.” The companies were two of four St. Louis groups selected by Dance St. Louis to collaborate with nationally renowned choreographers. Soprano singer Kelly Kaduce will pay tribute to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (Excellence in the Arts Award) along with pianist Gail Hintz.
In addition to Berry and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the 2013 honorees include Michael Uthoff, artistic and executive director of Dance St. Louis (Excellence in the Arts); Duane Martin Foster, choir director for Normandy High School (Art Educator of the Year); Judy and Jerry Kent (Excellence in Philanthropy); PNC Bank (Corporate Support of the Arts); and St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU (Champion of the Arts). The event is chaired by Ken and Nancy Kranzberg and sponsored by Emerson.
The awards event on Monday caps a half century of A&E’s funding of the nonprofit arts and arts education organizations throughout the 16-county bi-state St. Louis metropolitan area that it serves. Since its founding, A&E has provided more than 2,800 grants totaling more than $100 million in funds raised from tens of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Each year, A&E grants are directed to nearly 70 organizations, including theatre, music, dance, visual arts and outreach programs. All grant recipients must have an educational component, and many work directly with schools, community centers and teachers to reach underserved and at-risk populations. Three of the original grantees from 1963 -- the St. Louis Symphony, Springboard (known at the time as Young Audiences, Inc.) and the Community Music School -- are still funded organizations.
Several other components to A&E’s 50th anniversary kick-off include a traveling historical exhibit, the establishment of a 50th Fund for the Future, and the placement of a commemorative insert reflecting A&E’s history in the St. Louis Business Journal. The historical display is a moving pictorial of the St. Louis’ arts scene that includes photos and memorabilia representing theatre, dance, music and visual arts organizations through the past five decades. Milestone moments in the city’s and nation’s history are incorporated throughout the display. The display, which will be unveiled at the Arts Awards, will then appear at various arts locations throughout the year.
Under the leadership of Prost, selected in 2012 by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of its Most Influential Business Women, A&E launched the Arts Management and Leadership Academy, a series of affordable workshops that provide training and support for arts and cultural organizations and facilitates the Executive Directors Roundtable, a professionally led program for arts leaders. A&E is committed to developing unique approaches to problem solving, leadership and community involvement and preparing the future generations of arts leaders. In November, A&E received the Spirit of Philanthropy Award from the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for its work on behalf of the arts. And in February 2013, A&E will receive a Missouri Arts Award for Philanthropy from Governor Jay Nixon at a ceremony in Jefferson City.
A&E also recognized another major milestone in the organization’s history -- the purchase of its first home at the Centene Center for Arts and Education. Located in the Grand Center Arts District, the beautiful Gothic-style white glazed terra cotta facade building is home to 18 arts and arts education organizations. The first of its kind in the St. Louis region, the Centene Center for Arts and Education is an arts incubator that offers below-market rent, shared rehearsal, event and meeting spaces as well as technological infrastructure to all of its tenants. The building will be featured prominently as part of the holographic stage design at Monday’s Arts Awards celebration.
“The arts are among our community’s greatest assets,” Prost said. “Whether it’s music, dance, theatre, film, literary or visual arts, they teach us, inspire us and make us smile.”
Reflecting its own slogan, and the vision of those early arts pioneers, the Arts and Education Council, its partners and supporters, truly do keep art happening.
|Organization Contact:||Cindy Prost|
|Project Contact:||Mary McHugh|