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'High Low' Aims To Become A Literary Hub In Grand Center

Courtesy of the High Low

A newly renovated building is now open in Grand Center. It’s called the High Low. And like many other buildings in Grand Center, it’s focused on the arts.

But unlike many of the others, it’s not a theater or a performance space. Instead, it calls itself a “venue for freedom of expression through spoken and written word.” In other words, it aims to be a literary hub for a city that’s long had an outsized impact on the world of letters.

Like many newer developments in Grand Center, the High Low is a project of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, foundation executive director Chris Hansen explained the impetus for what he describes as a “labor of love.”  

“Like everything we do, it [starts with] a call to action from the community,” he said. “The literary arts have been saying for years that they want a place to centralize their efforts, meet their audience, grow their capacity. We listened, we took our model of supporting through infrastructure, found the right real estate opportunity… and found the right mixed use around it so that we could sustain it. So this was a response to [a] need, and that’s why you see it full and so vibrant so quick, with so many organizations using it.”

Erin Quick is the executive director of the St. Louis Poetry Center, which has its first-ever dedicated office space within the High Low. The nonprofit organization hopes to use its new physical footprint to increase its programming and events.

She said being in the building has already led to new ideas for collaboration. 

“It’s something all of the literary organizations have been wanting to do, and to have a space to be together to do that is just wonderful,” she said. “With our small budgets, we couldn’t share venues as easily, and we weren’t working right next door to each other, and now we are.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.