On Wednesday, October 5, the Regional Arts Commission hosted a focus group with city-wide professional musicians to discuss the current state of music in St. Louis, and how it can be improved.
As part of the developing cultural plan, RAC sought to understand their role in supporting the sounds of the city. Musicians ranging from jazz aficionados to noise artists contributed to the dialogue, sharing their experiences and hopes relevant to their specific scenes. The room’s dynamic was a healthy balance between expressing frustrations with the local industry and building ideas through EVOKE (the title of St. Louis’ developing cultural plan.)
Frustrations included but weren’t limited to experiences such as:
- Lacking suitable, affordable and comfortable performance venues that showcases local artists
- Lack of monetized opportunity for performing original material (imbalance in business owners that prefer commercialized music to original or specialized content)
- Disconnection between musical disciplines within the city
- Limited centralized areas of industry that garner sustained crowd flow
- Lack of affordable and accessible studio space for creation, rehearsal, and recording
- Lack of connection to broader industry opportunities (in national and international markets)
- Competition where there could be support between artists and industry workers
St. Louis is not New York, Chicago or Nashville. While geographical divides contribute greatly to lack of centralized music hubs, EVOKE does offer the opportunity to clarify a St. Louis brand of music, no matter how wide-ranging and diverse that brand should represent. It is an opportunity to make decisions that contribute to supporting music born in St. Louis on the local, regional and national level. It is a chance to help the truly distinct nature of St. Louis music flourish with direct, concrete initiatives. It is a chance to help St. Louis musicians make a living as artists.
Here are some of the ideas mentioned in the group’s dialogue:
- Contribute funding for a new venue that showcases St. Louis music and offers patrons comfortable, listening-oriented space, to sit and relax, or stand and dance depending on the show
- Allocate funds towards existing venues for allowing local artists to host shows and highlight local music
- Work with municipalities to build events and concert series in desirable outdoor spaces
- Engage initiatives that provide accessible rehearsal and work-space for musicians
- Support and build music education initiatives
- Activate artistic spaces (such as RAC) for creative work spaces for musicians.
What does St. Louis need to support and elevate music in the city?
The discussion is ongoing and every piece of input is heard and appreciated. Please engage EVOKE. Your voice has a DIRECT impact on the musical future. Comment below for direct input on this topic and take the survey to answer plans about the cultural plan as a whole. Please share with fellow artists and musicians and look out for content regarding focus groups concerning other artistic disciplines.