RAC Announces 2016 Regional CAT Fellows

Regional Arts Commission Announces

The 2016 Regional Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute Fellows

 The Regional Arts Commission (RAC), the region’s largest annual funder of the arts dedicated to the cultivation, promotion, and fostering of cultural programming in the St. Louis area, has selected 16 Fellows to participate in the 19th Annual Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute from January to May 2016.

The CAT Institute, which was created in 1997, is an innovative five-month curriculum for artists and social service professionals/community organizers who learn to collaborate across sectors of all disciplines and develop programs that can affect positive social change through collaboration. These programs take place in homeless shelters, prisons, at-risk schools, hospices, community centers, daycare facilities, social service agencies, as well as within neighborhoods.

CAT Institute Co-Director and Director of RAC’s Department of Artist and Community Initiatives, Roseann Weiss, commented, “Each year the CAT Institute faculty seeks to choose a group of Fellows who are diverse, engaged in our community and who have the potential to build successful arts-based community development and creative place-making. We hope to see exciting new collaborations for strong arts-based community programs that amplify the voices of under-resourced communities, help regenerate neighborhoods, and create significant tools for positive social change.”

This year continues an exciting period of growth for the RAC’s CAT Institute, including programs like the Neighborhood-Based CAT Institute and cross-sector seminars like the Art of Social Change. “With over 300 graduates, CAT Institute trained artists, activists, social workers, and community organizers continue to make a profound impact on the St. Louis area by empowering creative communities and inspiring greater civic engagement across the region,” said Liz Pund, CAT Institute Co-Director. She continues, “We look forward to providing even more opportunities for those interested in community arts to hone their professional skills while networking with each other.”

A panel of community arts professionals assessed more than 40 applications and chose these Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute Fellows for 2016:

  • Britt Baker –poet, philanthropist, writer, story-teller, musician, activist
  • Ellie Balk – professional artist, educator, and community organizer
  • Marvin Bostic – social worker; manager of elderly and disabled services at St. Louis Housing Authority
  • Amanda Colon-Smith – program director at Dutchtown South Community Corporation
  • Hassie Davis – program coordinator for CLUB CHIPS at CHIPS Health and Wellness Center
  • Miles Dela Cruz – development director, teacher, and mentor for Freedom Arts & Education Center
  • Kat Douglas – community artist; teacher at Intersect Art Studios
  • Sarah Hermes Griesbach – executive editor and co-founder at All the Art quarterly
  • Julia Ho – community organizer for Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE); facilitator/convener for Solidarity Economy St. Louis
  • Jason Lay – acupuncturist; volunteer at the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma
  • Pratima Murali – artist and art educator; teacher at Balvihar Center for Indian Cultural Education
  • Jae Shepherd – organizer, painter, drawer; QTPOC:STL, Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG)
  • Jacqueline Thompson – theatre professor at UMSL; Shakespeare Festival St. Louis; Every 28 Hours play festival
  • April Ulinski – writer; direct support at L’Arche St. Louis
  • Freeman Word – performance artist, poet, teaching artist, mentor; Family Court of St. Louis County, Youth Workforce Division of SLATE; 28 to Life
  • Melissa Yearian – social worker, writer; case advocacy supervisor at Voices for Children

For more information about the CAT Institute, visit http://www.art-stl.com/CAT/ or contact: Liz Pund at 314-863-5811 x1014.

About the Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute

Created in 1997 and now entering its 19th year, the CAT Institute is an innovative program based on the idea that art can be used as an agent of positive social change. The CAT Institute provides a professional level, comprehensive training program to prepare artists of all disciplines and their community partners to collaborate in creating and sustaining significant arts programs primarily in under-resourced community settings, such as neighborhood organizations, social service agencies, development initiatives, and education programs.  The fellows grapple with program planning and adaptability, partnership development, hands-on projects, teaching and situational strategies, and assessment tools. To date, over 300 fellows have graduated and are working in the community on a variety of projects, many designed during their fellowships.  In 2011, the Kresge Foundation awarded a grant to expand the CAT Institute to include graduate-level curriculum and to develop a new neighborhood-based model for community arts training. In 2014, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) provided funding for two more Neighborhood-Based CAT Institutes. For more information about the CAT Institute, visit http://racstl.org/art-community/community-arts-training-cat-institute/.

About the Regional Arts Commission www.racstl.org

The Regional Arts Commission (RAC) is at the forefront of efforts to transform St. Louis into a more vibrant, creative and economically thriving community by elevating the vitality, value and visibility of the arts. It is the largest annual funder of the arts in the region, and since its inception in 1985, RAC has awarded more than 6,700 grants totaling over $93 million to support nonprofit arts, individual artists, cultural organizations, consortiums and programs. Directed by a board of 15 commissioners appointed by the chief executives of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, RAC is a pivotal force in the continuing development and marketing of the arts in the region. Visit www.racstl.org for more information, or follow us on Facebook at Regional Arts Commission or Twitter @RACStLouis.





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