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(photo courtesy of Craft Alliance)

Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis grantee Craft Alliance plans to expand its line-up of studio offerings with the addition of a new print and paper arts studio space. The new studio, expected to open in the summer 2022, grows the organization’s current educational catalog of contemporary craft classes and workshops in ceramics, metals, wood, glass, fiber and digital design.

The new studio is being funded by a $66,150 grant from the Windgate Foundation, a longtime supporter of Craft Alliance and craft in the United States.

“Our desire is to create a print and paper arts studio that allows us to provide educational experiences and workshops exploring printmaking, papermaking, and book arts,” said Mark Witzling, Craft Alliance executive director. “The addition of this studio fills an educational gap in print and paper-based art forms in St. Louis, creates access and teaching opportunities for local and regional artists, and expands the experience of our long running Artists-In-Residence program. This is an exciting new studio to incorporate into Craft Alliance’s education and workshop schedule with the added ability to hold course ‘cross-over’s with our current studios. We are thankful to Windgate Foundation for their continued dedication to Craft Alliance, contemporary craft and visual arts.”

“We are thrilled for the Craft Alliance,” said Jay Scherder, RAC communications senior manager. “Adding more space for artists in St. Louis is crucial to the development and growth of the arts sector as a whole.”

Proposed additions include two convertible Conrad presses with the ability to teach courses in relief, intaglio, engraving, monoprint, screen printing, and alternative lithographic processes. Proposed papermaking and book arts include the addition of a paper beater and full studio set-up to teach fundamental courses in papermaking, papercraft, and book arts.

Learn more about Craft Alliance.

(photo courtesy of The St. Louis American)

A Regional Arts Commission operational grant recipient had some welcomed news to start the new year. The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis was just awarded a $15,000 grant from the Bayer Fund to support its New Art in the Neighborhood program. The program gives St. Louis and Illinois-area high school students the chance to work with veteran artists from around the world.

According to a recent article in The St. Louis American, “the free program provides program participants between the ages of 14-18 with more than 50 hours of studio time each semester where they immerse in the principles and tools of contemporary art-making and art history.”

Students in the program are able to explore different mediums: painting, drawing, abstract writing prompts, print magazine writing, and social practice artworks.

The New Art in the Neighborhood program meets on Saturday afternoons during the a twelve-week residency in the Fall and Winter/Spring. According to the Contemporary Art Museum website, up to 15 teens, selected through a competitive application process, receive pre-professional-level art instruction from Resident Teaching Artists, museum staff, and visiting artists. Students in the program also are provided with supplies, open studio time, and critique sessions to develop their portfolios. Students interested in the program can learn more here! 

More than 700 high school students have participated in the program, and more than 100 local, national and international artists have partnered since its inception.

Her passion for singing started in a church. Elizabeth Lakamp was only a child, but she noticed something that changed her life.

“I saw a baby looking at me over her mother’s shoulders,” she explained. “She had a look of wonderment and amazement as I was singing.”

From that moment, Lakamp understood the power of song. The power of voice.

“Music awakens my spirit and simply feeds my soul,” she explained. “Performing never gets old to me. As I’ve matured, I have become obsessed with the power of positivity and radiating light to my little corner of the world. Performing gives me that.”

You will rarely find Lakamp on a traditional stage or theater. She performs almost exclusively for a group very near and dear to her heart – senior citizens.

“The Greatest Generation has been through so much in their lives,” she said. “I do what I can to bring them some happiness. I keep things upbeat and energetic.”

For more than 25 years, Lakamp has visited nursing homes, assisted living spaces and retirement communities performing her talents.

“I really enjoy performing for retirement communities during their happy hours,” she quipped. “They can be a rowdy bunch!

When the pandemic hit, her show was suddenly put on hold. “Everything was locked down. I was completely out of work,” she admitted.

Through the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis Artist Relief Fund, she was able to stay afloat during the turbulent time. “RAC blessed me by awarding a grant that helped me to stay current on the bills. Just as importantly, the grant gave me peace of mind during that rough period! I will always be thankful to the RAC for their generosity!”

She started performing again in 2021. Though the future remains uncertain, she remains committed to her love of singing for seniors.

“At its core, the arts bring us together. Whether it’s music or a museum or live theater, each form creates an escape. Art offers thought provoking perspectives that helps us to see another perspective. We need art more now than ever.”

Lakamp has dreams of expanding her operation into a nonprofit – focusing specifically on Vietnam veterans across the country. She has been active in the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight since 2014. Learn more about her work.

After ticket holders from 41 states and six countries enjoyed Metro Theater Company’s virtual all-St. Louis reading of A Christmas Carol in 2020, the organization brought the one-of-a-kind event to life on stage at the Sheldon Concert Hall as an in-person fundraiser in December.

The Second Annual All-St. Louis Holiday Reading of “A Christmas Carol” featured a new lineup of local and national St. Louisans, both in person and remotely, reading excerpts from Charles Dickens’s timeless classic, including Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis President and CEO Vanessa Cooksey.

View the photo gallery!

Others taking part in the event include actress Ellie Kemper, Ferguson-Florissant School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Davis, KSDK anchor Casey Nolen, Ethical Society of Missouri Leader James, any many others.

A streaming version of the event will be available on Dec. 18 and will include even more celebrity readers, including Adam Wainwright. It will be free to the public. Learn more.

STL TV host Steve Potter speaks with RAC President and CEO Vanessa Cooksey about her first year on the job and about the many ways RAC supports and encourages the arts in the St. Louis region.


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