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Arts and Education Council names Lyah LeFlore-Ituen as president and CEO

The Arts and Education Council has chosen St. Louis native Lyah B. LeFlore-Ituen as its next president and CEO.

LeFlore-Ituen starts her new role July 18. She succeeds Cynthia Prost, who’s led the organization since 2008.

The organization, which provides grants to arts organizations and programs, will continue its mission while promoting equity in the arts, LeFlore-Ituen said.

“The Arts and Education Council is this brilliant opportunity for St. Louisans to St. Louisans to join together and create a real lasting impact on this incredibly vibrant arts community that we all call home,” LeFlore-Ituen said. “I am just so incredibly excited to jump in the trenches and just promote everything that we're about in our purpose and our importance.”

LeFlore-Ituen has held positions at Nickelodeon and Uptown Records. She’s also an author and has produced television shows and films. She is a co-founder of the Shirley Bradley LeFlore Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to produce local arts programming. It is named after LeFlore-Ituen’s mother, a St. Louis poet laureate emeritus.

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Opera Theatre of St. Louis
The Arts and Education Council has chosen St. Louis native Lyah B. LeFlore-Ituen as its next president and CEO. LeFlore-Ituen will start at the organization July 18. She succeeds Cynthia Prost, who’s led the organization since 2008.

LeFlore-Ituen joins the council as many arts organizations across the region have found new leadership. Bree Maniscalco was named executive director of Cinema St. Louis last month, and Celia Hosler was named interim president and CEO of Jazz St. Louis.

She recently participated in an Opera Theatre of St. Louis effort to produce more operas written by people of color and others who theater has long excluded.

LeFlore-Ituen said one of her main objectives is to strengthen support for smaller arts organizations, as many organizations and theaters had to halt performances to keep the coronavirus from spreading.

“It’s tough out here, and a lot of organizations, small organizations especially, have been struggling or didn't make it through the height of the pandemic,” LeFlore-Ituen said.

The council has an annual budget of up to $3 million. About three-fourths of the funds goes toward grants and programs across the St. Louis region. LeFlore-Ituen said finding ways to sustain arts funding is necessary to continue fostering the region’s arts programming. She said sustaining funding for small arts groups and building relationships between business and the arts are among her main priorities.

The Arts and Education Council’s board of directors reviewed about 20 applications for the position. Its members look forward to its new leader and her ideas, said Terry Good, Arts and Education Council board chair.

“We're going to continue to focus on the organizations and the types of organizations we've always focused on,” Good said. “Lyah is going to bring a different perspective, and so she's going to take us obviously in new directions, and we're open to that.”

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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