Regional Arts Commision | St. Louis Public Radio

Regional Arts Commision

Visual artist and RAC grantee Ellie Balk works on a mural. She hopes to use some of her RAC fellowship money to create a workbook to demystify the process of creating public art.
Michael Toolan

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis has reached a major milestone in a program supporting local artists.

In 2013, RAC began awarding $20,000 to 10 Artist Fellows. Today, the group announced its fifth round of grants, bringing the total to $1 million.

An artist or advocate stands before a wall of sticky notes at RAC in 2014 artists and advocates gathered at RAC to discuss the roll of the artist in social justice movements following the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr.
File Photo | Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

People in the St. Louis region will soon have a chance to let arts advocates and funders know how to better connect with the public.

Last week, the Regional Arts Commission, or RAC, launched an initiative to bridge the gap between area residents and the arts community. 

“It’s really more about just being more aligned with what is relevant for the community today and not just based on the way we did business more than 30 years ago,” RAC Executive Director Felicia Shaw said.

This collage of new RAC Fellows includes, clockwise, Agnes Wilcox, Jess Dugan and Robert McDonald Jr. and Damon Davis.
Provided and file photos

The Regional Arts Commission has chosen its 2016 Artists Fellows, who will each receive $20,000 checks to help with their work.

This is the fourth year RAC has presented the awards. Winning artists do not have to designate a specific project; they may use the money in any way that helps make their work possible.

The new group of 10 features literary, visual and performing artists, including a local performer who wants to spread his love of opera.

Arts leaders gather in St. Louis to plan for social change

Nov 17, 2016
Provided by the arts organization US Department of Arts and Culture

Arts leaders from around the country will gather in St. Louis this weekend to discuss new strategies for better integrating arts and social justice practices.

The Regional Arts Commission is working with a private arts organization that calls itself U.S. Department of Arts and Culture to produce the event titled Culture/Shift, which aims to help artists help promote arts and culture as a human right.

“It’s there in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Yet that right is only as real as we make it," said Adam Horowitz, chief instigator of the arts and culture group. "It’s only as real as the resources we put to it and the way that we stand for it.”

Octarrarium projection still
Provided by Kevin Harris

Artists Chad Eivens and Kevin Harris are designing an immersive video experience unlike anything else in St. Louis.

They’ve created a room at RAC where movements and sounds are recorded, processed, and projected on eight separate screens. The project involves complicated video manipulations but the artists say the heart of the project rests in the experience.

“It’s almost on a very simple level like what a carny would do when he brings in the merry-go-round or some kind of experience or ride for someone to enjoy,” said Eivens.

Jessica Witte will launch a seed-art project, similar to this August 2015 one in Belleville, along the St. Louis riverfront June 3-5.
Jessica Witte

St. Louisans will get to participate in a massive art project on the riverfront this summer, thanks to a new public art grant.

The local Critical Mass for the Arts announced the winner of its first-ever public works endeavor today. The group awarded multimedia artist Jessica Witte $10,000 for her “Seed the Change” idea.

Regional Arts Commission executive director Felicia Shaw, Pulitzer director Cara Starke and St. Louis Symphony president Marie-Hélène Bernard
Regional Arts Commission, Pulitzer Arts Foundaiton and St. Louis Symphony

Three women who moved to St. Louis this year to head up major arts organizations are praising the area for assets ranging from architecture to sports teams. But all three agreed on one perk: the food.

Dance instructor and Afriky Lolo dance company founder Diádié Bathily
Diádié Bathily

As an African-dance instructor in St. Louis for nearly two decades, Diádié Bathily is immersed in African culture. At the same time, he longs to experience it — up close. Now, thanks to a recent grant, Bathily can return to his home continent to soak up creative energy. Bathily is one of 10 people each receiving $20,000 fellowships from the Regional Arts Commission in 2015 (see full list here and below).

The difficulty of making money while making art will be discussed at a Tuesday night gathering.

Roseann Weiss, the Regional Arts Commission’s community arts manager, is on the panel. She wants to let artists know that local as well as national grant money is available, and encourage them to be diligent about going after the funds.

Felicia Shaw, new executive director of St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission, said she had a sense that this community would now "be open to change" after the events of Ferguson.
Nancy Fowler

When new Regional Arts Commission (RAC) executive director Felicia Shaw realized her job at a San Diego foundation might be eliminated, she wondered what that might mean for her life.

“I was thinking about what new direction I wanted to go in,” Shaw said. “And then, Ferguson happened.”

Embarrassment, sadness, anger and guilt

Last August, when Shaw listened to the news coming from her hometown of St. Louis, she went through a gamut of emotions: embarrassment, sadness, anger and guilt. What she heard loud and clear were the very same issues that drove her to move San Diego — more than three decades earlier.

William Morris, Brett Williams and Meghan Grubb
Nancy Fowler

Three local artists received $1,500 each on Tuesday night to help fund projects that include home movies and ideas about the spaces where we live.

In an event at The Sheldon Art Galleries, the local Critical Mass for the Visual Arts organization named the recipients of its 2015 Creative Stimulus Awards. The money helps pay for the cost of ongoing work as well as funding new projects.

The 2015 winners are:

Fred "Fred-O" Onovwerosuoke

Last November, African Musical Arts was awarded a $50,000 Innovation Grant from the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) to fund a two-year pilot project, “The African Performing Arts Exchange.” In addition to producing concert performances and music engravings of works by African-descent composers, the exchange will offer a web-based platform to share these resources. The Exchange is the dream of African Musical Arts founder Fred “Fred-O” Onovwerosuoke. He and development director Wendy Hymes joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter to discuss the Exchange and a concert to benefit the project.

Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

After three decades, Jill McGuire of St. Louis’ Regional Arts Commission will leave her post as executive director on Friday, April 10.

McGuire co-founded RAC in 1985 to help fund and support the arts in St. Louis. Since then, the nonprofit has awarded $90 million to artists and institutions, according to McGuire.

Felicia Shaw
Provided by the Regional Arts Commission

The Regional Arts Commission has announced its new executive director, after a 10-month search.

RAC announced on Tuesday that Felicia Shaw will replace retiring RAC founder Jill McGuire. Shaw is a native St. Louisan who’s returning home after a long career, much of it spent on the West Coast.

St. Louis Data Project Reaches Half-Way Point

Oct 22, 2014
Jer Thorp
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio Intern | File photo

Data artist Jer Thorp completed the research-based stage of his $75,000 project to examine and creatively present St. Louis’ data. The New York based artist’s research consists of city visits and extensive demographic and mapping research coupled with an unexpected emphasis on experiencing the physical environment of St. Louis.

RAC member organizes and discusses artist ideas for actions regarding the death of Michael Brown.
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

The first artists meeting held to discuss artists organizing around death of Michael Brown at the Regional Arts Commission was filled with discussion of racial divide and catharsis. The second meeting, held one week later, focused on planning and displayed a higher level of organization.

“We really had to come in and declare here this is what we’re ready to do. Let’s roll up our sleeves!” said Ed Reggi, 43, artist and actor. Reggi is the primary facilitator of the event. He noted a change in tone from one week to the next.

Artists Discuss Actions After Week of Protests in Ferguson

Aug 13, 2014
Artists Gather at RAC to Discuss Possible Actions.
Willis Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Racial divides -- in St. Louis, the arts community and the nation -- were the focus Wednesday night as artists gathered at the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission to talk about Michael Brown's death.

RAC held the gathering for artists to process the week’s events in Ferguson and discuss how artists can address their role in the public dialogue about it.

“It’s equivalent to a heart attack in America,” said one woman who entered the conversation later in the evening.  “The civil rights movement of the 21st century is happening now. Here.”

Artist William Burton Jr. looks around in his former gallery in North City's Crown Square.
File Photo / Stephanie Zimmerman / St. Louis Public Radio

Originally published Tuesday, May 13. Updated Friday, May 16 to include audio from Cityscape. Look for more STL Art Game-Changers in an upcoming series.

St. Louis artist and activist William Burton has a history of helping teenagers from unstable environments. Now Burton’s own outreach efforts are facing homelessness.

Layers Reveal Truths About Challenges And Beauty In RAC Show

Jan 21, 2014
Photo of David Dolak artwork
Provided by RAC

Rene Dimanche of the Regional Arts Commission has gathered three artists whose combined work makes manifest aspects of the human condition that are difficult to express. Dimanche writes that in their group exhibit, Irrevocable Fragments, artists Byron Darnell Rogers, David Dolak and Clayvon Ambrose Wesley “deal with the disintegration and re-integration of information we digest from places and people we come across in our lives.”

EAC/Portfolio’s “Ebony Creations”

St. Louis-area art openings this Friday explore the beauty of nature, teapots and African-American works. “Ebony Creations” is a joint project of Portfolio Gallery and the Edwardsville Arts Center.

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