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Arts

Small arts organization aims for bigger impact by purchasing north St. Louis space

Yeyo Arts Collective uses its space for art classes and performance events as seen in this 2012 photo at its former space at 2700 Locust Ave.
Dail Chambers
Yeyo Arts Collective uses its space for art classes and performance events as seen in this 2012 photo at its former space at 2700 Locust Ave.

For eight years, Yeyo Arts Collective has struggled to stay afloat. Now the organization is raising money to buy a building to sustain itself, and better serve its clients.

Since it opened, Yeyo has rented spaces in the midtown area and south St. Louis. Early next year, the nonprofit plans to purchase and renovate a house in The Greater Ville neighborhood in north St. Louis to use as its base. Eliminating rent payments will help Yeyo work with people who can’t afford to pay for classes, according to founder Dail Chambers.

“We’ll be able to do some of the same projects without charging the families,” Chambers said.

‘We hope to inspire’

Yeyo Arts Collective works to empower women, children and families through creative projects such as mask-making and West African dance.

The organization is funded through a handful of organizations including the Missouri Humanities Council, and its $10 class fees. Through the years, its monthly rent payments have averaged $1,000 — eating up nearly half the budget.

Yeyo has collected a little over $2,000 through fundraising for the $55,000 it needs to buy the building and has received some private donations.

Dail Chambers is a childbirth educator, doula and life coach as well as a visual artist.
Credit Dail Chambers
Dail Chambers is a childbirth educator, doula and life coach as well as a visual artist.

“If we can do this without getting a bank loan, that’s our goal,” Chambers said.

Still, the group will make the purchase and move to north St. Louis this spring, Chambers said. Yeyo has accumulated enough credit through St. Louis’s Cowry Collective Timebank to fund the renovations.

The house Yeyo is eyeing is on the same block as a small cooperative called Art House, at 3911 Greer Ave.  Yeyo plans to partner with Art House on projects and in forming relationships with neighbors.

The decision to move to north St. Louis could have value beyond artmaking, Chambers said.

“Even in sharing our small narrative of success, we hope to inspire the folks around us to have more entrepreneurial attempts in that area,” she said.

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL  

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