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Welcome Back to ARTS &: Next Steps!

This issue of ARTS &: Next Steps updates the Regional Arts Commission’s arts sector stakeholders on the progress of the second phase of our cultural planning process. For the past several months, we have focused on deepening our understanding of the community priorities identified in the cultural vision document, ARTS &: A Creative Vision for St. Louis. The feedback we have gathered about these priorities has informed RAC’s strategic planning efforts that are currently underway.

We appreciate the suggestions and ideas received from our three working groups – Arts & Education, Arts & the Economy and Arts & the Working Artist, as well as from the individual artists who attended a special feedback session. Special thanks to our consultants Amy Rome and Jennifer Drake Fantroy of the Rome Group for their expert facilitation and guidance throughout this phase of our work.

For an update on what was discussed at these April working group meetings, please see a synopsis provided by the Rome Group below. We will continue to communicate through intermittent blogs to keep you informed as our strategic planning continues. To read previous blogs, click here.

Our next stakeholder public event will be held Thursday, May 30, 2019, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar Blvd., in the Studio. The Rome Group will share the Working Groups’ final report, and RAC will provide a preview of what we are learning through our strategic planning conversations. You’ll want to be present to stay engaged and in the know. To RSVP, click here.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

Synopsis of ARTS & Working Group Meetings

For each working group, The Rome Group provided a synopsis of the solutions the participants articulated during the March meeting, many of which were tactical in nature. Each working group was instructed to create categories that would encapsulate the solutions – potential high-level strategies for RAC to consider in its strategic plan to address the challenges in the arts and culture sector.

The results of those conversations are below.

Arts Education

Systemic support for teaching artists

St. Louis teaching artists need the tools and resources to be effective educators, delivering high-quality education to youth and adults alike. This includes skills-based training on pedagogy as well as access to teaching opportunities in school and community-based settings.

Advocacy

In order to help ensure that school districts, lawmakers, and communities prioritize arts education, the case for its impact on both academic outcomes, career preparation, and social and emotional development must be made.

Centralized resources

Arts education is being offered across the region but it is hard to know what organizations are offering what specific programs, which makes it difficult to access. A community hub, which should include a calendar, will help those working in the sector as well the public know the full complement of opportunities.

Fully fund the arts

While school districts require arts education, it is of varying quality. One remedy is to ensure that the legislature fully appropriates public funds designated for the arts, so districts have additional resources to use to improve/add arts education.

Community- and School-based programming

Schools are an important vehicle for delivering arts education but ensuring that youth can access arts education outside of school settings is an important equity issue. The onus is on administrators, therefore, to ensure that they are reaching all youth and delivering services in ways that youth can access them in the community.

Equity

People should have access to arts education regardless of geographic location, race, socioeconomic status, etc. This requires administrators to be thoughtful about where and when they deliver programming and which efforts funders choose to prioritize.

Arts & Economic Development

Leadership and Infrastructure

The arts sector would benefit from a well-positioned leader (or entity) responsible for advocacy, policy, marketing, and ensuring that organizations in the region have the support and infrastructure to operate efficiently and achieve their missions.

Information and data

Data exists to make the case for the arts and the contribution of the sector to the economy.  The region would benefit from a concerted effort to provide that information, especially across the arts and entertainment sectors, and have a clearinghouse to do this.

Marketing and public relations

There is a need to tell the stories of local artists and arts organizations, especially as it relates to the contributions of artists and the impact of the sector on aspects of life in the region.

Connecting to regional government

Arts leaders should be working to influence regional government to prioritize the arts – in economic development as well as programming.

Arts & Working Artists

Capacity building

Artists need information and resources that support their ability to earn a living making art. This includes services to effectively run small businesses/nonprofits, advice on agents and paying taxes.

Storytelling and messaging

Framing our region as one with a thriving arts “scene” that is a good place for artists to live and make a living requires effective marketing and PR as well as critical journalism about the arts.

Support the work/fund me

Supporting working artists requires creating paid opportunities for artists to work and exhibit, including opportunities outside of the St. Louis region (“exporting” talent to other markets). This can take many forms, from commissioning work, to fellowships, to relatively low-dollar grants that would allow artists to attend conferences or cover the costs associated with exhibiting their work (e.g. U-Hauls, frames).

Housing (work and life)

In order to create, artists not only need affordable studio space, they also need to earn a living wage, including work outside of the sector, so that they can meet their basic needs such as housing and food.

Promote our work

Working artists are more likely to stay in the region when they feel valued and that their work is celebrated. This translates to visibility, which can help artists secure additional opportunities to exhibit here in St. Louis and in other markets.

Resources and connection

Artists need connection with other artists – for camaraderie, to share lessons learned and to learn about resources. While this happens in an organic way for some, a more systematic way of connecting artists to resources and opportunities, such as a central database, convener or calendar, would increase opportunity in an equitable way.