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Regional Arts Commission Announces $20,000 Artist Fellowships, Releases Results Of Artists Survey

More than 3,000 St. Louis area artists filled out a survey called Artists Count, which helped inform the Regional Arts Commission’s (RAC) strategic plan.

The RAC has not previously funded individual artists, rather opting to fund nonprofit organizations and consortiums since 1985, when the organization was created.

Jill McGuire, Executive Director of the Regional Arts Commission, said “After reading this survey we made a commitment that the results of the study will affect our policies.”

The two major announcements were the creation of:

Artists Fellowships: Each year, ten St. Louis artists will each be awarded a $20,000 Fellowship, which is a financial investment in the careers of the selected artists and in the cultural vibrancy of the region.

Artists Opportunity Grants: Each year, artists will be awarded from $500 to $3,000 to fund special equipment and materials, rental space, arts-related travel, conference fees and other resources from a pool of $75,000.

William Cleveland, Director of the Center for the Study of Art and Community, conducted the survey.  Among his primary findings were:

  • Artists are Entrepreneurs – Most professional artists in St. Louis are small business owners who are motivated by their creativity and they spend between 10 and 50% of their time on marketing and communications.
  • Artists are Job Creators – They reported hiring more than 4,100 artists and non-artists to help with their businesses.
  • Income of Artists: $25,000 and below = 46.4% - $25,000 to $50,000 = 31.6% - $50,000 to $75,000 = 12.3% - $75,000 to $100,000 = 6.4% - $100,000 and above = 3.3%                      
  • Artists Rely on Multiple Sources of Income – Only 29% of artists are able to work full-time at their art.
  • Time is Money for Artists – Finding time to create their art is one of the most challenging aspects for artists.

Jill McGuire and William Cleveland were host Don Marsh’s guests to discuss the report and the RAC’s next steps.
The executive summary of the report is available here, as is the full report.

The Regional Arts Commission receives funding from the hotel/motel room sales tax revenue from St. Louis City and County, in addition to special project grants from foundations, corporations and the Missouri Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

St. Louis Public Radio’s local arts/culture program Cityscape is sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council and the Regional Arts Commission.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

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