15 arts organizations will join forces with OTSL and RAC to present a streamed concert in support of artists whose livelihoods have been directly impacted by COVID-19
ST. LOUIS, May 8, 2020 – Together with 14 other arts organizations and the Regional Arts Commission (RAC), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) is proud to announce “Arts United STL,” a free virtual benefit in support of RAC’s Artist Relief Fund, which provides critical aid to St. Louis working artists whose livelihoods have been critically interrupted by the pandemic. Produced by OTSL in partnership with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, this benefit will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 31st and present performances from local arts organizations, including The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, and more.
Arts United STL was first envisioned by OTSL General Director Andrew Jorgensen as a way for St. Louis’ established arts institutions to help support the community’s vibrant arts ecosystem. After an initial consultation between OTSL, RAC, and the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, a consortium of 15 organizations was invited across an array of arts mediums. In the coming days, RAC will also encourage open submissions from independent artists and other arts organizations to further highlight the artistic diversity of the city.
More information about Arts United STL can be found on Opera Theatre’s website at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited, which will also host the live video stream on Sunday, May 31st. In addition, viewers may watch the livestream via YouTube on Opera Theatre’s channel. Viewers will be encouraged to donate to the RAC Artist Relief Fund during the concert. To date, the Artist Relief Fund has distributed $136,500 in direct support to individual artists. The goal of Arts United STL is to raise an additional $250,000 through 1,000 individual donations and sponsorships. Supporters may donate to the Artist Relief Fund at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited at any time before, during, or after the live event.
The arts and culture sector is an important driver for the St. Louis economy. According to the 2015 Americans for the Arts Economic Prosperity 5 study commissioned by RAC, the nonprofit arts and culture sector generated $590.9 million and 19,129 full-time equivalent jobs for the greater St. Louis area during that same year. Since the start of the pandemic, based on research conducted by Americans for the Arts, 89% of St. Louis City and County arts institutions have canceled events that would have reached more than 285,000 individuals.
“This benefit represents an exciting and collaborative effort to respond to the global crisis affecting the arts and culture sector in our region,” said Mont Levy, chair of the board of commissioners at RAC. “As the major public funder of arts in the region with a mandate to support individual artists, we know it is RAC’s responsibility to provide emergency support during this time of great need. We could not be more grateful to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for spearheading this event or to the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and every participating organization for their work to highlight the rich cultural tapestry of our region and support their fellow artists.”
The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis is the largest annual funder of non-profit arts in the region, providing grants to individual artists, arts and culture organizations, and other programs since 1985. RAC established the Artist Relief Fund through the St. Louis Community Foundation on April 1st to help working artists who have lost income due to the pandemic. So far, the fund has distributed $500 and $1,000 grants to more than 130 artists and will resume accepting new relief applications once additional funds have been secured.
OTSL General Director Andrew Jorgensen says of the effort, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with so many other arts organizations to help local artists, whose work makes St. Louis an immeasurably vibrant, special place. OTSL couldn’t be happier to produce this concert in support of artists during these difficult times. This benefit will highlight a fantastic array of art from different genres that reflect the artistic diversity and traditions of this community. I am so grateful to all my many colleagues who are uniting in this remarkable way to support one another and our entire arts ecosystem.”
All participating organizations are donating their time, with production costs and staffing needs covered by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, additional staffing needs to be covered by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, and an in-kind donation from Switch. The program will be directed by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Tom Ridgely. Arts United STL is produced in partnership with the Regional Arts Commission, and the following arts partners: The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, and the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis.