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Mari “MC” Carter is a performing poet, writer, teaching artist and student. Her passion for the arts has led her to collaborating with Urb Arts as a poet, Verbquake teaching artist and a Verbquake Youth Slam coach. She has partnered with organizations such as Prison Performing Arts, Saint Louis Storytelling Festival, Covenant House, and Artist as Tutors to not only share her work as a poet, but create spaces for others to shine, grow and release through writing.

Mari is a two-time Saint Louis Grand Slam Champ, two-time Southern Fried Poetry Slam Indie Finalist, and represented Saint Louis at the Individual World Poetry Slam. She invested three years into competing with the nationally-ranked Saint Louis Poetry Slam team. Her writing focuses on reflecting the current times, social and political justice, joy, and womanhood. Her greatest hope is that her work in the community and writings can help someone heal, transform, overcome, and rest in spaces that bring them peace and safety. She is currently dedicated to completing her first poetry and short story book, “Damaris,” as she pursues a career in mental health as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Mari joined the RAC AEP6 Research Team in June 2022 as a research assistant. She earned her bachelor’s degree at University of Missouri-Saint Louis, majoring in psychology and minoring in business management and organizational behavior. She looks forward to working with RAC and exploring other avenues to elevate the arts.

As a native of St. Louis and a lover and supporter of the arts, Alexis Creamer admits she’s only had exposure to one area and demographic of the arts. After joining the RAC AEP6 Research Team, she’s been given an opportunity to explore various art districts in St. Louis, some in which she had never heard of or attended previously.

“This position has shown me the diversity of the arts, its forms, and the many people who support it,” Creamer said. “This work reveals to me why it is so important to keep art alive, while doing all the things to uplift it and allowing it to expand. Art in our city truly brings people together from just about every corner of St. Louis. In a number of municipalities within this city, you can find a place of appreciation for food, music, dance, theatre, visual artistry, and more.”

As a research assistant, Creamer has grown a deeper love and appreciation for all the ways art exists in St. Louis. The research has also helped spark creativity within herself.

“This work has allowed my personal artistry to develop,” she said. “While surveying at the Contemporary Art Museum, I connected with a curator of Poetry at the Point. It created an opportunity to share my literary works with different diasporas of St. Louis as a young black writer. Exploring various art events while serving as a research assistant has opened my network and allowed me to connect through art to feel accessible no matter where I am. I’ve always wanted to feel included in the arts communities of St. Louis, and now I am integral part of it.”

When she’s not conducting research, Creamer advocates for philanthropy. As a Persistence Coach for the Wyman Center, she is a strong believer of empowering scholars to discover their passion while fueling their purpose. Through her work, she prides herself on her ability meet young adults where they are and to assist them in overcoming adversity to find their willpower through effective programming and intentional partnership.

Creamer is also alumna of Rung for Women, a competitive 6–18-month cohort initiative with a focus on coaching, teaching of holistic practices, urban sustainability, and advanced professional skills training. Following her college graduation, she was recently awarded a position within the FOCUS STL 2023 Emerging Leaders Cohort. While assisting her community in attaining knowledge, and discovering their passions, she aims to continue to unveil her own, as a public speaker, writer, poet, and lover of the arts.

 

 

Zofie Christian is an incoming first-year at the University of Chicago, where she plans to major in economics. During high school, Christian took advanced Spanish classes at Saint Louis University, alongside classes in women’s and gender studies, political science, and sociology. This led her to work as a research assistant for Liz Chiarello, where she worked on generating an important data set that looked at the role institutions play in prescription drug abuse. Christian decided to join the RAC AEP6 Research Team as a way to combine both her interest in economics and desire to conduct research. She hopes that her work on the Arts and Economic Prosperity Study 6 team will contribute to a better understanding of the impact that the arts has on the regional St. Louis economy.

In addition to her work at RAC, she currently works as the Summer Facilities Manager at the Clay School Community Resource Hub in Hyde Park, Saint Louis. In her free time, Christian loves playing violin, running, making pottery, and reading (she hopes to continue all her hobbies in college!). While she isn’t quite sure where life after college will take her, it will definitely involve graduate school (and maybe becoming the next Janet Yellen).

 

To help close the well-documented literacy gap and positively represent BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) children in our community, the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis is teaming up with Nine PBS and Lion Forge Animation to create an exciting new kids’ animated series, Drawn In.

Launching in Fall 2022, Drawn In follows four comic book-loving kids as they go on epic adventures where their real-world collides with a new comic world in each story. The stories are shared through animated shorts, comic books, a website with educational games, and live learning events.

See Drawn In Featured on KSDK. 

“This project isn’t just about launching a new cartoon,” said Jay Scherder, communications senior manager of the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis. “It’s about creating a love for literacy, art and creativity. Sixteen new video shorts will be broadcast on Nine PBS during weekdays in conjunction with Teaching in Room 9 episodes. Comic books will be distributed via the St. Louis American, an award-winning and free local newspaper serving the Black community, reaching over 40,000 homes and local hubs. It will also be sent to all K-3 grades in St. Louis Public Schools.”

According to the St. Louis City, only 37 percent of third grade students are reading at a proficient level or better. Furthermore, white students are more than twice as likely as black students to demonstrate reading proficiency in the third grade. Children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to not graduate high school on time as compared to proficient readers, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

See Drawn In Featured on Fox 2. 

“Poor educational outcomes are linked to other negative consequences in the future, such as poor physical and mental health, poverty, and unemployment,” said Angie Carr, Nine PBS vice president and chief impact officer. “Children need to see characters like themselves who are celebrated and modeled as readers, problem-solvers, and champions in these stories.”

Drawn In was developed by and for the St. Louis community. Over the past several months, the creative team has convened with early learning experts, organizational partners and stakeholders, and local families to help develop characters and storylines that align with their real-life experiences.

“The stories are about smart, fun, multi-dimensional kids who love reading and reflect some of the many identities of kids in our communities. Black, Latinx, and Asian early learners will see themselves represented in every aspect of Drawn In,” said Carr. “It is imperative to tell our communities’ authentic stories by reflecting on all the wonderful things that make up our identities.”

Drawn In hopes to expose all children in the St. Louis region and across the country to authentic and non-stereotypical characters who may be different from the viewer’s own identity. The project aims to build empathy and foster a more connected society when experiences are shared.

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis is proud to announce a new partnership with STL Bucket List, whose mission is to become the top source for the people, places and events in St. Louis. The independent media company has one of the top Instagram accounts in the St. Louis region and an increasingly popular podcast.

“St. Louis has a vibrant, passionate arts community,” said Jay Scherder, communications senior manager at RAC. “STL Bucket List is already doing an amazing job of highlighting local artists and small businesses making a difference in the region. This new partnership will allow RAC to talk about our mission to a larger, younger audience and let them know that St. Louis is an arts town.”

Read more about STL Bucket List as featured on KSDK. 

Co-hosted by couple Lucas and Marissa Farrell, the RAC-sponsored podcast discusses all things St. Louis with some of the cities most influential people. The weekly show highlights guest speakers with a passion for serving the community through talents, businesses, entrepreneurship, and influence.

RAC joined STL Bucket List on their podcast in July. Check it out below.

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