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Regional Arts Commission Raises $500,000-Plus For Local Artists

Hanna Barczyk for NPR
Hanna Barczyk
More than 80% of St. Louis Artist Relief Fund recipients used the funding to pay for rent and utilities, according to RAC.

Americans for the Arts calculated in May that the nation lost more than 210 million admissions due to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations canceling events in this pandemic.

The economic impact of that? A $6.7 billion loss in event-related spending by audiences at local businesses offering dining, lodging and retail. And hit even harder have been the artists themselves, who’ve lost opportunities not just to share their work with others but to be paid for it.

Mindful of that loss of income, the local Regional Arts Commission partnered with the St. Louis Community Foundation to create the St. Louis Artist Relief Fund. By the end of July, the fund awarded more than $500,000 to nearly 600 local artists across disciplines. Individual grants range from $500 to $1,000. More than 80% of recipients used the funding to pay for rent and utilities, according to RAC.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske discussed the arts and culture climate in St. Louis and heard from an artist about her hardships throughout the pandemic and how she’s remained busy.

Joining the discussion was the chair of the Regional Arts Commission’s board of commissioners, Mont Levy, and RAC grant recipient Michelle Dillard. She is a local actor, voice-over artist, playwright and director.

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 and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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