Regional Arts Commission | St. Louis Public Radio

Regional Arts Commission

Felicia Shaw is the executive director of the Regional Arts Commission.
File Photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:27 p.m., with comments from Mont Levy, chairman of the Regional Arts Commission — Felicia Shaw, executive director of the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, resigned today.

The organization announced Shaw’s departure Monday and named Celia Hosler as interim executive director. Hosler, former chief operating officer of COCA, will start immediately.

Shaw could not be reached for comment. RAC officials gave no reason for her departure.

Felicia Shaw, new executive director of St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission, said she had a sense that this community would now "be open to change" after the events of Ferguson.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The Regional Arts Commission envisions a more ambitious agenda for the St. Louis area’s cultural community. In a plan released late last week, the grant-making organization set out a series of priorities for the immediate future of the region’s arts scene.

Among the plan’s recommendations is that arts groups work with local organizations to help solve community problems. Arts groups can play a role with efforts to build affordable housing, improve public safety and other civic initiatives, RAC executive director Felicia Shaw said.

Felicia Shaw is the executive director of the Regional Arts Commission.
File Photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Regional Arts Commission is trumpeting what it claims is the first comprehensive regional planning effort of its kind in St. Louis.

Among other things, the 90-page report calls for more arts education and collaborations among groups that have previously not worked together.

The focus of the report is “how can the arts play a larger role in making St. Louis a better place to live,” explained Felicia Shaw, executive director of the Regional Arts Commission (RAC).

Shaw was St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh’s guest on Friday.

Former Mayor Raymond Tucker (at right) and then-civic leader and bond issue chairman Sidney Maestre look out over an area of Mill Creek Valley slated for clearance in this photograph from 1956.
Missouri Historical Society

Lois Conley of St. Louis grew up in Mill Creek Valley, where everything was in walking distance, and neighbors kept a close eye on each others’ children.

“You felt safe; You felt protected. Everybody knew everybody,” Conley said.

But in the late 1950s, the area between Union Station and Saint Louis University was condemned in the name of urban renewal. Families moved away and lost touch.

Now St. Louis is a finalist in a national contest that would help fund a public art project documenting the destruction of Mill Creek.

Felicia Shaw, new executive director of St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission, said she had a sense that this community would now "be open to change" after the events of Ferguson.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The Regional Arts Commission will award $3.8 million in grants to 125 arts organizations in St. Louis, the organization announced Wednesday.

But a shift in the commission’s priorities means many established groups are now shut out. The commission, which receives a portion of the city’s occupancy tax on visitors to hotels and motels, will not fund 40 arts organizations that received RAC grants in 2017.

Visual artist and RAC grantee Ellie Balk works on a mural. She hopes to use some of her RAC fellowship money to create a workbook to demystify the process of creating public art.
Michael Toolan

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis has reached a major milestone in a program supporting local artists.

In 2013, RAC began awarding $20,000 to 10 Artist Fellows. Today, the group announced its fifth round of grants, bringing the total to $1 million.

Reviews of top shows: at RAC and Mad Art

Oct 8, 2017

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 4, 2008 - If you missed the incredible opening of "Screwed In" -- and even if you saw it -- it's highly, highly recommended that you visit the exhibition, even though it's a completely different (and quieter) animal than it was on that opening night.

(L to R) Michael Donovan, Robert Lynch and Sherry Sissac
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

In Missouri’s big cities and in its rural area, the arts have a big impact – not only for their inherent value – but economically as well.

“It’s a billion dollar story [in Missouri],” said Michael Donovan, Executive Director of the Missouri Arts Council, an organization that has funded the arts in communities across the state for more than 50 years.

Donovan along with Robert Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, and Sherry Sissac, Deputy Director of the Regional Arts Commission, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Friday.

An artist or advocate stands before a wall of sticky notes at RAC in 2014 artists and advocates gathered at RAC to discuss the roll of the artist in social justice movements following the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr.
File Photo | Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

People in the St. Louis region will soon have a chance to let arts advocates and funders know how to better connect with the public.

Last week, the Regional Arts Commission, or RAC, launched an initiative to bridge the gap between area residents and the arts community. 

“It’s really more about just being more aligned with what is relevant for the community today and not just based on the way we did business more than 30 years ago,” RAC Executive Director Felicia Shaw said.

This collage of new RAC Fellows includes, clockwise, Agnes Wilcox, Jess Dugan and Robert McDonald Jr. and Damon Davis.
Provided and file photos

The Regional Arts Commission has chosen its 2016 Artists Fellows, who will each receive $20,000 checks to help with their work.

This is the fourth year RAC has presented the awards. Winning artists do not have to designate a specific project; they may use the money in any way that helps make their work possible.

The new group of 10 features literary, visual and performing artists, including a local performer who wants to spread his love of opera.

Arts leaders gather in St. Louis to plan for social change

Nov 17, 2016
Provided by the arts organization US Department of Arts and Culture

Arts leaders from around the country will gather in St. Louis this weekend to discuss new strategies for better integrating arts and social justice practices.

The Regional Arts Commission is working with a private arts organization that calls itself U.S. Department of Arts and Culture to produce the event titled Culture/Shift, which aims to help artists help promote arts and culture as a human right.

“It’s there in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Yet that right is only as real as we make it," said Adam Horowitz, chief instigator of the arts and culture group. "It’s only as real as the resources we put to it and the way that we stand for it.”

Octarrarium projection still
Provided by Kevin Harris

Artists Chad Eivens and Kevin Harris are designing an immersive video experience unlike anything else in St. Louis.

They’ve created a room at RAC where movements and sounds are recorded, processed, and projected on eight separate screens. The project involves complicated video manipulations but the artists say the heart of the project rests in the experience.

“It’s almost on a very simple level like what a carny would do when he brings in the merry-go-round or some kind of experience or ride for someone to enjoy,” said Eivens.

Jessica Witte will launch a seed-art project, similar to this August 2015 one in Belleville, along the St. Louis riverfront June 3-5.
Jessica Witte

St. Louisans will get to participate in a massive art project on the riverfront this summer, thanks to a new public art grant.

The local Critical Mass for the Arts announced the winner of its first-ever public works endeavor today. The group awarded multimedia artist Jessica Witte $10,000 for her “Seed the Change” idea.

Regional Arts Commission executive director Felicia Shaw, Pulitzer director Cara Starke and St. Louis Symphony president Marie-Hélène Bernard
Regional Arts Commission, Pulitzer Arts Foundaiton and St. Louis Symphony

Three women who moved to St. Louis this year to head up major arts organizations are praising the area for assets ranging from architecture to sports teams. But all three agreed on one perk: the food.

Dance instructor and Afriky Lolo dance company founder Diádié Bathily
Diádié Bathily

As an African-dance instructor in St. Louis for nearly two decades, Diádié Bathily is immersed in African culture. At the same time, he longs to experience it — up close. Now, thanks to a recent grant, Bathily can return to his home continent to soak up creative energy. Bathily is one of 10 people each receiving $20,000 fellowships from the Regional Arts Commission in 2015 (see full list here and below).

The difficulty of making money while making art will be discussed at a Tuesday night gathering.

Roseann Weiss, the Regional Arts Commission’s community arts manager, is on the panel. She wants to let artists know that local as well as national grant money is available, and encourage them to be diligent about going after the funds.

Felicia Shaw, new executive director of St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission, said she had a sense that this community would now "be open to change" after the events of Ferguson.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

When new Regional Arts Commission (RAC) executive director Felicia Shaw realized her job at a San Diego foundation might be eliminated, she wondered what that might mean for her life.

“I was thinking about what new direction I wanted to go in,” Shaw said. “And then, Ferguson happened.”

Embarrassment, sadness, anger and guilt

Last August, when Shaw listened to the news coming from her hometown of St. Louis, she went through a gamut of emotions: embarrassment, sadness, anger and guilt. What she heard loud and clear were the very same issues that drove her to move San Diego — more than three decades earlier.

William Morris, Brett Williams and Meghan Grubb
Nancy Fowler

Three local artists received $1,500 each on Tuesday night to help fund projects that include home movies and ideas about the spaces where we live.

In an event at The Sheldon Art Galleries, the local Critical Mass for the Visual Arts organization named the recipients of its 2015 Creative Stimulus Awards. The money helps pay for the cost of ongoing work as well as funding new projects.

The 2015 winners are:

Fred "Fred-O" Onovwerosuoke

Last November, African Musical Arts was awarded a $50,000 Innovation Grant from the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) to fund a two-year pilot project, “The African Performing Arts Exchange.” In addition to producing concert performances and music engravings of works by African-descent composers, the exchange will offer a web-based platform to share these resources. The Exchange is the dream of African Musical Arts founder Fred “Fred-O” Onovwerosuoke. He and development director Wendy Hymes joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter to discuss the Exchange and a concert to benefit the project.

Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

After three decades, Jill McGuire of St. Louis’ Regional Arts Commission will leave her post as executive director on Friday, April 10.

McGuire co-founded RAC in 1985 to help fund and support the arts in St. Louis. Since then, the nonprofit has awarded $90 million to artists and institutions, according to McGuire.

Felicia Shaw
Provided by the Regional Arts Commission

The Regional Arts Commission has announced its new executive director, after a 10-month search.

RAC announced on Tuesday that Felicia Shaw will replace retiring RAC founder Jill McGuire. Shaw is a native St. Louisan who’s returning home after a long career, much of it spent on the West Coast.

St. Louis Data Project Reaches Half-Way Point

Oct 22, 2014
Jer Thorp
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio Intern | File photo

Data artist Jer Thorp completed the research-based stage of his $75,000 project to examine and creatively present St. Louis’ data. The New York based artist’s research consists of city visits and extensive demographic and mapping research coupled with an unexpected emphasis on experiencing the physical environment of St. Louis.

RAC member organizes and discusses artist ideas for actions regarding the death of Michael Brown.
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

The first artists meeting held to discuss artists organizing around death of Michael Brown at the Regional Arts Commission was filled with discussion of racial divide and catharsis. The second meeting, held one week later, focused on planning and displayed a higher level of organization.

“We really had to come in and declare here this is what we’re ready to do. Let’s roll up our sleeves!” said Ed Reggi, 43, artist and actor. Reggi is the primary facilitator of the event. He noted a change in tone from one week to the next.

Artists Discuss Actions After Week of Protests in Ferguson

Aug 13, 2014
Artists Gather at RAC to Discuss Possible Actions.
Willis Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Racial divides -- in St. Louis, the arts community and the nation -- were the focus Wednesday night as artists gathered at the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission to talk about Michael Brown's death.

RAC held the gathering for artists to process the week’s events in Ferguson and discuss how artists can address their role in the public dialogue about it.

“It’s equivalent to a heart attack in America,” said one woman who entered the conversation later in the evening.  “The civil rights movement of the 21st century is happening now. Here.”

Artist William Burton Jr. looks around in his former gallery in North City's Crown Square.
File Photo / Stephanie Zimmerman / St. Louis Public Radio

Originally published Tuesday, May 13. Updated Friday, May 16 to include audio from Cityscape. Look for more STL Art Game-Changers in an upcoming series.

St. Louis artist and activist William Burton has a history of helping teenagers from unstable environments. Now Burton’s own outreach efforts are facing homelessness.

Layers Reveal Truths About Challenges And Beauty In RAC Show

Jan 21, 2014
Photo of David Dolak artwork
Provided by RAC

Rene Dimanche of the Regional Arts Commission has gathered three artists whose combined work makes manifest aspects of the human condition that are difficult to express. Dimanche writes that in their group exhibit, Irrevocable Fragments, artists Byron Darnell Rogers, David Dolak and Clayvon Ambrose Wesley “deal with the disintegration and re-integration of information we digest from places and people we come across in our lives.”

EAC/Portfolio’s “Ebony Creations”

St. Louis-area art openings this Friday explore the beauty of nature, teapots and African-American works. “Ebony Creations” is a joint project of Portfolio Gallery and the Edwardsville Arts Center.

Regional Arts Commission

Whether they were on stage, leaning into the kiln or creatively advocating for justice, it was a banner year for many local artists.

The Regional Arts Commission this year began an unprecedented awarding of money
to St. Louis-area artists through its Artists Count program. Dozens of visual, performing and literary artists were given grants of between $500 and $3,000 for specific projects.

Provided by Kathryn Bentley

The Regional Arts Commission (RAC) today handed local artists Kathryn Bentley, Arny Nadler and eight others $20,000 each to make their dreams a reality.

Bentley, a theater artist, and Nadler, a sculptor, are among the first group of 10 visual, performing and literary artists to become RAC Artist Fellows. Their names (see full list below) were announced in a morning news conference at RAC's offices. (Note: An earlier version of the article said the offices were in University City. They are in St. Louis.)

Review: Award-winning artwork explores St. Louis' evolving horizon

Aug 27, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 27, 2013 - The 2012 Creative Stimulus Award exhibit at the Regional Arts Commission is titled Within an Evolving Horizon. The horizon found consistently in the artwork, however, is that of the city of St. Louis.

Each artist’s odyssey allowed him or her to capture a personal St. Louis that could not be found on a postcard in the Arch gift shop.

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