Willis Ryder Arnold

Arts and Culture Reporter

Willis Ryder Arnold is an Arts and Culture Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. He has contributed to NPR affiliates, community stations, and nationally distributed radio programs as well as Aljazeera America, The New York Times blogs, La Journal de la Photographie, and LIT Magazine. He is a graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a recipient of the Society of Professional Journalist’s award for Radio In-Depth Reporting.


Food and Restaurants
11:06 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Taste of St. Louis Prepares for 10th Year, As Some Lament Move From Downtown

Credit Provided by Taste of St. Louis

Taste of St. Louis begins today and closes Sunday. This year, the festival announced a change in location from downtown St. Louis to Chesterfield. The event’s relocation has been a hot-button issue for some St. Louis residents. Former school teacher  and lifelong Ferguson resident Jerry Benner, 70, believes the change redefined the event.

“It’s not taste St. Louis. It’s taste of Chesterfield,” Benner said.

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Environmental Learning
9:44 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Missouri Botanical Garden Wins Grant for IMAGINE Program

The Kemper Center For Home Gardening at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Credit Laila Wessel | Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden has been awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for $140,605. The money will go toward developing the Botanical Garden’s IMAGINE program. IMAGINE stands for Innovative Modeling Across the Garden to Investigate Neighborhood Ecology. The project will form a partnership between the Botanical Garden and nearby schools to teach kids about environmental issues in their communities.

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Not The Arch
8:43 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Fair St. Louis Announces It Will Return To Forest Park

Steve Pozaric
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Fair Saint Louis Foundation and the city of St. Louis announced Wednesday that Fair St. Louis 2015 would be returning to Forest Park. The fair was held in the same location this year. New General Chairman Steve Pozaric hopes to top this year’s estimated attendance of 250,000 people. He attributes the draw to the fair’s rich history.

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Faith and Performance
4:42 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

St. Louis Theaters Address The Practice Of Veiling Across Religions

From left, Lubaba Abdullah, Donna Fisher and Rori Picker Neiss
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The veil can be a contentious symbol in American culture and is often portrayed as a garment of oppressive fundamentalism. Wednesday night three women gathered to share personal stories about their choice to embrace or relinquish the veil. They addressed the complicated cultural perception of the veil.

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Ferguson Connection
2:53 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

The Black Rep's Purlie: 'A Biting Satire' About Race Relations

Detail from the poster for Purlie
Credit The Black Rep website

The musical "Purlie" is a “biting satire” about race relations according to The Black Rep founder Ron Himes. Himes is adamant about the show’s contemporary relevance in view of the Ferguson protests.

“The play deals with civil rights issues; it deals with racial bigotry; it deals with Southern white privilege and a community that is not willing to change and integrate; and that all sounds very familiar,” he said.

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Music Weekend
7:48 pm
Sun September 7, 2014

A Tale Of Two Festivals: LouFest's Record Attendance And The Birth Of Pü Fest

Cake lights up the stage Saturday Night at the 5th Annual Loufest Saturday Night.
Brian Villa | Special to St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend an estimated 36,000 people from out of state and the surrounding area gathered in St. Louis for LouFest 2014, the little music festival that could. In just four years, the weekend-long concert has grown so much that founder Brian Cohen partnered with production company C3 Presents to help handle logistics, bring in bigger names and expand concert amenities.

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11:14 pm
Sat September 6, 2014

Italian Fabiano Caruana Wins Sinquefield Cup

Fabiano Caruana
Credit Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Saturday night, Italian Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana finalized his first place standing in the Sinquefield Cup. Caruana established himself quickly in the tournament, working methodically through a seven-game winning streak. This streak was halted by an 8th round draw with the Norwegian reigning world chess champion, Magnus Carlsen. 

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LouFest Music Festival
3:15 am
Fri September 5, 2014

LouFest Founder Reflects On Festival Growth

Flaming Lips at LouFest 2012
Credit St. Louis Beacon file photo

Since 2010, LouFest has grown from local festival into a nationally known music experience. LouFest returns this weekend to Forest Park. The two-day national music festival includes headliners Arctic Monkeys and Outkast and local bands Pretty Little Empire and Big Brother Thunder and the Master Blasters. Festival Founder Brian Cohen said he expected this type of growth.

“I didn’t think about a small little indie festival, I thought about a national draw for St. Louis,” said Cohen.

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Graffiti Culture
8:05 am
Sat August 30, 2014

Graffiti Festival Paint Louis Begins Second Year Reboot

The flood wall is being prepped and will be filled with new graffiti this weekend.
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend kicks off the second year of the Paint Louis’ reboot. Over the next three days, graffiti artists from around the country will gather in St Louis to paint the flood wall protecting downtown The original event began in 1995 and ran through 2001. It was shut down after too many artists painted in unsanctioned areas. One of the original organizers and graffiti artists Jona Anderson, better known as Stun or Stun1, has returned to the city. Although he now lives in Minneapolis, he’s glad to be back in St. Louis.

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Beyond Ferguson
9:46 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Department Of Justice Representatives Stress Communication At Friday Night Meeting

Department of Justice official Rita Valenciano speaks to people assembled at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in St. Louis.
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Two representatives of the Community Relations Service of the Department of Justice, Eric Dean and Rita Valenciano, stressed they were reporting the needs of the St. Louis community to their superiors.  Although the goal of the evening was set as a time for community members to ask questions of the two representatives, little insight emerged as to their roll. Valenciano stressed she was in Ferguson Aug. 10 and immediately began working with community groups to facilitate dialogue with law enforcement and government agencies.

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