MISSION: By providing funding to various arts-based nonprofits, the Arts and Education Council (A&E) works to create a more dynamic and lively arts scene within the greater St. Louis area.
HISTORY: At the time of its founding, there was a void in arts support—simply put, A&E was formed as a solution. “In the mid-60s, the United Way decided to focus their giving on health and human services,” says Cynthia Prost, A&E president. “So you see communities that have banded together to create these united arts funds to keep that support going for arts and cultural treasures.” Since its 1963 founding, more than $100 million has been distributed among area arts organizations, thanks to the work of A&E.
“We’ve been around for more than 51 years, and A&E has played a very important role in the nurturing of a lot of our arts organizations that we know and love,” Prost says. “When you think about 51 years of all of these individuals donating money to A&E to ensure our artistic legacy for future generations, it’s quite remarkable—I think it speaks highly to the generosity of St. Louis.”
COMMUNITY IMPACT: Throughout 16 counties in the greater St. Louis area, A&E provides support to some 70 organizations, including institutions such as the Center of Creative Arts (COCA,) The Black Rep, Dance St. Louis, the St. Louis Symphony, Circus Flora and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. While each grant may come with its own additional set of requirements, the basic criteria is that, in addition to being an established 501(c)3, the organization must focus on both the arts and education regarding the arts.
Located in the heart of Grand Center is A&E’s headquarters, the Centene Center for Arts and Education. The building is more than simply an office, however—it’s an incubator for the arts that features rehearsal, office and performance space for the 17 arts nonprofits that it houses.
Recently, A&E joined forces with Power2Give.org, a ‘crowdfunding’ website that allows donors to scroll through proposals from area arts organizations and donate toward that specified project. “We feel it’s a very important part of philanthropy to try to nurture, because more and more people are getting their information online on what to support,” Prost says. “By having this website dedicated to this, folks can peruse all the different projects, watch videos and make gifts that really make a difference to the organization.”
WHAT/WHEN/WHERE: 23RD ST. LOUIS ARTS AWARDS, JAN. 20, AT THE CHASE PARK PLAZA
To be honored at the event are Carol North and Nicholas Kryah; Thelma and David Steward; Edward Jones Partners and Associates; the St. Louis Symphony; Lee Nolting; the Des Lee Fine Arts Education Collaborative; and Heidi Morgan.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED: For more information, call 289-4000 or visit keeparthappening.org.
ON THE BOARD: MICHAEL WEISBROD
Michael Weisbrod, senior VP at First Bank Wealth Management and A&E board chair, says he began supporting the Arts and Education Council before his direct involvement with the organization. “The opportunity to join the Arts and Education Council board came when I served as the board president for Craft Alliance back in 1997, and I really got to understand what A&E does for all the arts organizations, and the community, as a whole,” he says. “I’ve been thoroughly committed to it ever since.”
Organizations supported by A&E help fill the void left from arts curriculum cutbacks, Weisbrod says. “All the arts organizations we fund are providing outreach to schools and other areas in the community that otherwise may not have the opportunity to enjoy the benefit of art.”
A St. Louis native, Weisbrod attended St. John Vianney High School, followed by Washington University’s School of Architecture. In addition to his work with A&E, he currently serves on the board for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Craft Alliance, and Jewish Family and Children’s Services, as well as the guild board of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Weisbrod’s chairman term ends this month. He will be succeeded by Terrance Good.