Artistic inspiration is a personal process, but the arts don’t occur in a vacuum. To thrive, they require community support. Now in its 20th year, the St. Louis Arts Awards, presented by the Arts and Education Council, honors individuals, organizations and businesses that enrich the local cultural scene. The 2011 dinner and awards ceremony takes place Monday, Jan. 24, in the Khorassan Ballroom at the Chase Park Plaza. “Our 2011 honorees represent the breadth and depth of our arts community,” says Arts and Education Council president Cynthia Prost.

    “At a time when economic development is rightfully top of mind for our region, it’s worth noting that the arts contribute significantly to our economy,” says St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association (RCGA) president/CEO Dick Fleming, “Some 9,000 people are directly employed at about 150 area arts and cultural organizations, comprising a $500 million sector of our economy.”

    Serving as co-chairs are Ameren president/CEO Thomas Voss and his wife, Carol. “The vibrant arts community here is truly one of our region’s greatest assets,” Voss says. “The quality and variety of artistic expression helps create an environment that consistently attracts business talent, educates and inspires our children, and entertains and delights us all.”

    Singer Mae Wheeler, known as ‘Lady Jazz,’ will receive the annual Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award. “Wheeler is also a philanthropist who has raised money for many causes and started a scholarship fund to help local students,” Prost says. Receiving the Excellence in the Arts Award is Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. “Through high-caliber, accessible performances and educational outreach, The Rep embodies all that great theater should be,” Prost adds.

    The 2011 Excellence in Philanthropy Award goes to Christian Peper, a founding member of the law firm Martin Peper & Martin, now known as Husch Blackwell. “He has been a dedicated supporter of the Saint Louis Art Museum for more than four decades and museum council for 25-plus years,” Prost explains.

    Wayne Salomon, chair of the theatre department at John Burroughs School, is Art Educator of the Year. “For more than 20 years, Salomon has helped students develop confidence, the power of self-expression, a strong work ethic and a keen sense of responsibility,” Prost says. The Corporate Support of the Arts Award recipient is Wells Fargo Advisors. “In 2009 alone, Wells Fargo and its employees invested $5 million-plus in more than 90 St. Louis area nonprofits,” Prost notes.

    Honored with the Arts Innovator Award is Sheldon Concert Hall and Galleries executive director Paul Reuter. “Reuter, instrumental in expanding the Sheldon’s facilities and programming, also conceived American Arts Experience-St. Louis,” Prost explains. Chosen for the Champion for Literary Arts Award is Karen Duffy. “Through her sponsorship of the River Styx at Duff’s Restaurant Reading Series, Duffy is a driving force in promoting multicultural literature and arts in the region,” Prost says.

    The event is presented by Edward Jones. Additional sponsors include The Boeing Company, Wells Fargo Advisors, Ameren Corporation, Centene, Southwest Airlines, Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, Macy‘s, the Monsanto Fund, Brown Shoe Company, Novus International, PNC Bank, BJC HealthCare, RubinBrown, RCGA and St. Louis Commerce Magazine.

    Established in 1963, the Arts and Education Council assists about 70 nonprofit arts and education programs throughout the region.  LN

On the Cover: The 2011 St. Louis Arts Awards, presented by the Arts and Education Council, takes place Jan. 24, in the Khorassan Ballroom at the Chase Park Plaza. Chaired by Dick Fleming and Sarah Smith, and co-chaired by Thomas and Carol Voss, the evening begins with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards ceremony. For more information, call 289-4004 or visit