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Local arts grant steering committee includes former mayor, head of Pinkhouse

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 19, 2012 - The holistic nature of the Kresge Arts St. Louis grant was not included in the original outline.

When the Kresge Foundation finalized the $100,000 planning grant, the research to choose which neighborhoods would received planning assistance was to be left to consultants, according to Diane Drollinger, director of community partnerships as the Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation.

“We could've just hired two consultants to go out and say 'Hey, what's the best art product' and  that’s just -- boring,” Drollinger said.

“Where’s the fun in that?”

Drollinger contacted the Kresge Foundation and got that provision changed right away. In place of the consultants, the exploratory committee began to assemble a steering committee that represents variety in the St. Louis area: planners, funders, artists and movers-and-shakers.

The difference in the people sitting around the table can be stark. Erin Budde, head of community affairs at Wells Fargo Advisors, said these differences were invigorating.

"We've got a really great and diverse steering committee that's reflective of all the different kinds of organizations that the Kresge planning project is trying to engage."

Regina Martinez might be the sort of person Budde had in mind when she invokes "diversity" in industry. Budde works just west of downtown in the sprawling Wells Fargo complex. Martinez works on a residential street in Pagedale at a community hub called the Pinkhouse. Budde works to divy up Wells Fargo's annual giving and commitment towards "community and economic development," she said. Martinez, who is employed through the non-profit Beyond Housing, turns those resources into neighborhood power.

 

"It's been awakening to hear stories of  interactions from our different levels of experience," Martinez wrote in an email. "So there is potential in the room to paint a really expansive picture of what it feels like to intentionally connect around many different experiences of art and culture."

The steering committee spread a wide net In a city that has some "repetitive" energy in the non-profit sector, Drollinger said.

"St. Louis is a community where there is a lot of commitment, a lot of energy around addressing the challenges and opportunities that face us. We have yet to benefit from bringing everyone's gifts around particular issues to the table," she said.

After a few months of discussions and presentations, the steering committee ultimately casts the vote in which neighborhoods will be home to further research in the planning stage.

Below is a list of members of the Kresge Arts Steering Committee.

Erin Budde - Head of Community Affairs, Wells Fargo Advisors

Cynthia Crim - Foundation Program Manager, Commerce Bank

Judge Jimmie Edwards - Circuit Court Judge

Raymond Lai - Deputy Director of Planning, Zoning and Economic Development, University City, MO

Regina Martinez - Coordinator in Residence, The Pink House

Sandra Moore - President, Urban Strategies

Carol North - Artistic Director, Metro Theatre

Don Roe - Acting Director of Planning & Urban Design Agency, City of St. Louis

Vincent Schoemehl – President & CEO, Grand Center Inc.; former mayor, City of St. Louis

Cheryl Walker - Counsel at Bryan Cave law firm; real estate developer

Cheryl Adelstein - director of community relations and local government affairs

Bill Ray – Assistant to County Executive, St. Louis County

Kathy Gardner - Senior Vice President of Community Investment, United Way St. Louis

Sue Stepleton - Director, The Policy Forum at The George Warren Brown School of Social Work

The St. Louis Beacon has been following the project for several weeks, reporting independently. Its reporting is supported by the Kresge grant.

Johnny Buse is a freelance writer.

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