For the first time in nearly two years, the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) of St. Louis is proud to announce more than $1.15 million in new grant funding for local artists and arts programming across the region. More than 90 arts programs and 85 individual artists will receive direct financial support in 2022.
“The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis has led the way in the survival and promotion of the arts in St. Louis,” said Sheila Suderwalla, Artists First executive director. The nonprofit, inclusive art studio empowers artists of all abilities. The organization received a $13,500 Program Support Grant this year from RAC. “Artists First is grateful not only to be a partner with RAC but also for their support in championing artists of all abilities.”
“This is a big accomplishment for RAC,” said Vanessa Cooksey, RAC president and CEO. “We made significant administrative and operational sacrifices over the last two years to guarantee grants and programs benefiting St. Louis’ arts organizations and artists were funded at the highest possible level within our means.”
Nearly all RAC’s funding comes from the hotel/motel tax earned in St. Louis City and County. Since April of 2020, RAC lost more than 60% of its revenue. Before the pandemic, RAC awarded an average of $3 million in grants every year.
The recovery of the St. Louis arts and culture sector is essential for the economic wellbeing of the region. According to the American for the Arts’ Arts and Economic Prosperity Report, the St. Louis arts and culture sector brings in nearly $600 million in economic activity every year and provides more than 19,000 full-time jobs.
“Sometimes we forget that St. Louis is an arts town,” Cooksey added. “We have 400+ arts and culture nonprofits, dozens of for-profit entertainment venues driving our region’s creative economy. As a whole, the sector brings more than 12 million people to St. Louis every year-which is more than all sports combined.”
“Grantmaking is the cornerstone of RAC’s work,” said Cheryl D.S. Walker, RAC Commission Chair. “We are strengthening our organizational infrastructure and prioritizing equity, diversity and inclusion in response to the continued impacts of COVID-19 on the arts and culture sector. Our leadership and collaboration across sectors and geographies will help grow and sustain RAC for decades to come – ensuring a full creative life for every St. Louisan.”
A full list of grant recipients can be found at racstl.org/grants.