Attract and retain a high-performing community of professional artists and creative entrepreneurs

  • Increase support to individual artists through fellowships, residencies, training, and opportunities to acquire space to live and create new work
  • Partner with developers and other foundations to reclaim vacated properties as habitable live/work spaces for artists in revitalizing neighborhoods
  • Support the development of teaching artists, including training and employment opportunities

It should go without saying that the artists who live and work in our community are a vital part of the arts and culture in St. Louis — but it’s important to say it anyway.

In speaking with so many of them as part of this process, we heard a lot of frustration with their place in the arts and culture infrastructure of St. Louis. Many artists feel unappreciated and unsupported, and that if the right supports and structures were in place, their work could be having a greater positive impact on the region.

This document aims to capture not only those frustrations but also their ambitions, dreams, and ideas for the future of the arts and culture in St. Louis. We want artists to see their voices reflected here, and we want other stakeholders in this document — especially arts institutions, funders, and the people of St. Louis — to hear those voices, so they can engage in an effort to better support and lift up artists as a means to strengthen the arts community.

Through surveys, discussion groups, and neighborhood listening sessions, local artists listed family connections, affordability, and the ease of Midwestern life as reasons they choose St. Louis. But the factors that make St. Louis a difficult place to live and work made for a longer list.

Union Avenue Opera

Union Avenue Opera

For the arts and culture to thrive in St. Louis, local artists must be nurtured, supported, and celebrated. St. Louis is capable of being seen as an arts destination — as a place where artists choose to go, not just a place where they come from — but if St. Louis is to become such a destination, we will need to invest in artists and the infrastructure they need to flourish.

While artists always welcome more funding opportunities, many spoke of needing support and strategies to help them find and afford spaces where they can live and work, including places for performances, exhibitions and rehearsals, and continuing education.

A high concentration of artists often makes an area hip and desirable, which in turn raises rents to a level where they no longer are affordable to the very artists who contributed to their rise. Artists want and need protection against displacement from these areas.

Artists also expressed the need for more marketing and promotion support, and more opportunities to collaborate and network, to forge a stronger network of artists across the region. Many artists see themselves as creative entrepreneurs and want to be more connected to St. Louis’ growing start-up scene.

April Parviz, Intersect STL

read April's story