Regional Arts Commission report calls for more collaborating, using arts to improve communities | St. Louis Public Radio

Regional Arts Commission report calls for more collaborating, using arts to improve communities

Sep 14, 2018

The Regional Arts Commission is trumpeting what it claims is the first comprehensive regional planning effort of its kind in St. Louis.

Among other things, the 90-page report calls for more arts education and collaborations among groups that have previously not worked together.

Felicia Shaw is the executive director of the Regional Arts Commission.
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The focus of the report is “how can the arts play a larger role in making St. Louis a better place to live,” explained Felicia Shaw, executive director of the Regional Arts Commission (RAC).

Shaw was St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh’s guest on Friday.

“The arts support dozens and dozens of opportunities to make a good life,” she said. “People in St. Louis love the arts. The arts matter here and probably more so than in other places.”

RAC is the largest public funder of nonprofit arts organizations and of individual artists in the St. Louis region.

Established in 1985 and funded through a hotel/motel tax, RAC has awarded more than 7,000 grants totaling more than $100 million. Each year, the organization funds about 200 nonprofit arts organizations.

In an interview immediately after her conversation with Marsh, Shaw spoke with SLTPR arts and culture reporter Jeremy D. Goodwin.

She expanded on the idea that arts organizations need to partner with groups outside their normal orbit.

“The whole notion of making neighborhoods more inviting for artists to live there, or using public art to transform blighted lots into places where people want to be, those are the intersections we’re talking about, of arts and community development, or arts and economic development,” Shaw said.

Shaw explained the arts can also contribute to improving public safety.

“There’s no reason to stay inside our theater when police are struggling with ways to make the streets safer. We should consider ourselves partners and not be so siloed,” she said.

Jeremy D. Goodwin contributed to this report.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie HemphillCaitlin Lally and Xandra Ellin give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.