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The Saint Louis Visionary Awards announced the 2024 honorees and two Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RACSTL) grantees are being honored. Luisa Otero-Prada is being recognized as a Community Impact Artist, while Heather Beal-Himes is being recognized as an Outstanding Working Artist. 

Beal-Himes is a dancer, choreographer, actress and director. She is certified in the Dunham Technique and has toured worldwide teaching and performing. Otero-Prada weaves different aspects of her identity into her artistic practice, making a genuine, strong connection with her community.  

Additional artists recognized were Elizabeth Mannen Berges (Major Contributor to the Arts), Shawna Flanigan (Outstanding Teaching Artist), Meridith McKinley (Outstanding Arts Professional) and Alexa Seda (Emerging Artist). 

The Saint Louis Visionary Awards is one of the most prestigious recognitions in the regional arts community and celebrates the outstanding contributions, achievements and excellence of women who work in or support the arts in St. Louis.  

“The depth of talent and the power of the artists and arts supporters in our community is an integral part of our strength as a region. As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of this chapter of the Saint Louis Visionary Awards, we strive to make this powerful force visible, valued and recognized. The 2024 honorees are accomplishing transformational work in the arts,” said Roseann Weiss, Chair of the Saint Louis Visionary Awards. “They are truly visionary, and we are excited to honor them and highlight their work.” 

The 2024 Saint Louis Visionary Awards Ceremony takes place Monday, April 29. The program starts at 6:00 p.m. followed by a reception at 7:00 p.m. at the Sun Theater in Grand Center. Min Jung Kim, Barbara B. Taylor, Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, and Margaret McDonald, Senior Principal of HOK, are the co-hosts for the evening. 

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The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) announced a new visionary partnership with MorningStar Music Publishers that will make sheet music of pieces performed and commissioned by the SLSO’s IN UNISON Chorus available worldwide. The collaboration will significantly broaden the impact of the IN UNISON Chorus of SLSO, a resident chorus in its 30th year that performs and preserves music from the African diaspora. The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the largest public funder of the arts in St. Louis, proudly supported the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO). 

The IN UNISON Choral Series—as the collection of published scores is called—highlights and elevates Black composers and arrangers, deepening the portfolio for and improving access to music for combined choral and orchestral forces by these composers. Publication begins this spring. 

Marie-Hélène Bernard, SLSO President and CEO, said, “We are delighted that this new partnership will make music by Black composers and arrangers available for performance by ensembles internationally, advancing the mission of the IN UNISON Chorus. For 30 years, the IN UNISON Chorus has been a pioneering ensemble, meaningfully expanding the choral-orchestral repertoire of music by Black voices. This vital SLSO ensemble is a nexus of the institution’s community engagement initiatives, and the talents of its members demonstrate the vitality of the music they perform. MorningStar Music Publishers, with its strong network globally, is an essential partner in sharing this important body of music.” 

The series’ initial offerings include: 

“Lord, I Am Grateful,” by Emorja G. Roberson, Assistant Professor of Music and African American Studies at Oxford College of Emory University, first performed by the IN UNISON Chorus and the SLSO at the 2023 Lift Every Voice concert; and

“It’s Working” by Isaac Cates—a Missouri-based composer, pianist, vocalist, and teacher—an SLSO-commissioned piece for the IN UNISON Chorus that received its world premiere in February 2019 by the SLSO, IN UNISON Chorus, and soprano soloist Jennifer Kelley.  

Since its founding in 1994, the IN UNISON Chorus has performed several times each season with the SLSO, including the annual IN UNISON Christmas and Lift Every Voice: Celebrating Black History Month concerts, as well as a free community concert. Led by McBeth since 2011, the chorus continues to expand its range and impact while remaining focused on Black composers.


Photo credit: St. Louis Symphony Orchestra website

River Styx, St. Louis’ oldest literary and visual arts journal, has officially relaunched its publication. For over 48 years, they have inspired local and national audiences with moving poetry and striking visual pieces. Though extreme financial and staffing struggles threatened the future of the publication, local organizations such as the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RACSTL) helped keep it afloat.  

“The pandemic caused financial stress,” said Deborah Taffa, River Styx Editor-In-Chief. “I was on the board for years and money was always tight, but it was only after the pandemic started, and the original team was dismantled, that things became difficult.”  

Managing editors came and went, and at one point, Taffa’s husband even volunteered his truck to relocate their offices in an effort to save money. Regardless of the setbacks or amount of time it took, Taffa notes she was determined to find a new team that shared the vision of the magazine’s future.   

“When it comes to creating art, or building an art community, there are always obstacles, and that is why you must dive in and get it done as soon as possible,” Taffa said. “River Styx is too venerable a magazine to allow it to die.”  

Taffa credits various unpaid volunteers, specifically their accountant Clea Annarecho and grant writer Michele Ryan, for keeping the publication alive. She also credits Bryan Castile, Managing Editor, and his ‘aesthetic vision’, including noteworthy upgrades like the sleek, new website aimed at enhancing the written works and artwork. 

Some of the financial stability can also be credited to the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the Missouri Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Over the years, RACSTL has given River Styx four program support grants, adding up to $44,500. “These organizations contributed to the relaunch by believing in the historic value of the magazine,” said Taffa. “They saw the care with which the grants were written, and they were willing to give our new editorial team a chance.”    

As for the future of the journal, River Styx is focusing on stability, consciously scaling the magazine and looking forward to its 50th anniversary next year. “Not many literary journals reach that milestone,” Taffa said. “I think everyone will be excited to see what we’re putting together for that. I don’t want to give anything away, but you’re going to see us bring River Styx’s past into its present in some interesting and unexpected ways.”   

Taffa offers sage advice for other literary magazines navigating the current landscape of the post-pandemic world. “Expect challenges and never give up. Don’t let fear of failure or feelings of competition discourage you,” Taffa said. “Don’t be discouraged by how long things take. Just stay in your lane and keep your focus on your own goals rather than letting yourself fall to comparisons. Being a supporter of the arts is always worth it.” 

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the largest public funder of the arts in St. Louis, proudly supported River Styx with four Program Support Grants in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2023.  

To keep up with River Styx, follow their Instagram and Facebook or check for new issues on their website 

Summer camp registration is opening across St. Louis, and there are several opportunities for children and teenagers to explore the arts! From theater to visual arts, dance and music, our arts programs and organizations have something for all ages. 


Big Muddy Dance Company Summer Intensive  

  • Whether you are a seasoned professional or new to the dance scene, Big Muddy Dance Company has a summer program for you. Big Muddy offers an assortment of dance techniques to learn, from ballet and jazz to contemporary. Each session ends with a showcase for friends and family to attend.  
  • Age groups: 10-18+ 
  • Dates: June 17-July 19 

Camp Magic House 

  • From conducting science experiments to developing an art making process, Camp Magic House has a variety of fun sessions for your camper to explore.  
  • Age groups: Pre-K-5th grade 
  • Dates: June 3-28 

COCA Summer Arts Camps  

  • Campers can use their creative skills all summer with COCA’s range of fun activities. You can book a full day of activities or opt in for a half day to fit your schedule.  
  • Age groups:  3-18  
  • Dates: May 28-Aug. 16 

Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) 

  • Create your own comic book or record a custom stop motion video at one of the classes offered by CAM this summer.
  • Age groups: 9-13    
  • Dates: June 10, July 23, July 30 

Craft Alliance Summer Camp 

  • From sewing to pottery, the Craft Alliance Summer Camp offers a diverse range of sessions for campers to explore their creative side. Join the crafting adventure at one of the half-day camps.  
  • Age groups: 7-14 (10+ for glass or metals camps using torches) 
  • Dates: June 3-Aug. 9 

Crayola Imagine Arts Academy Camps  

  • At Crayola Imagine Arts Camps, campers can learn different art techniques from sculpting and painting to textile artistry.  
  • Age groups: 5-12 
  • Dates: March 18-Aug. 16 

DaySpring Summer Camp 

  • DaySpring Summer Camp provides a creative environment where campers learn from highly qualified teachers specializing in different subjects such as musical theatre, visual arts and more.  
  • Age groups: 3-18  
  • Dates: June 10-Aug. 20 

Film Camp USA 

  • Join Film Camp USA for a summer camp for the next generation of filmmakers. Campers will learn about acting, scriptwriting, directing, camera, lighting, wardrobe and production department skills. At the end of the season, campers get to celebrate with a Red Carper Premiere and have their very own Oscar-like moment with family and friends.
  • Age groups: 7-18
  • Dates: TBA

Grand Center Arts Academy Summer Arts Camps 

  • Campers will join industry experts for a summer full of learning visual arts, theater, dance and vocal music in the heart of the Grand Center Arts District. 
  • Age groups: Grades 5-12   
  • Dates: July 8-19   

Laumeier Sculpture Park Art Camp  

  • At Laumeier Sculpture Park Summer Art Camp, young artists can choose from a variety of full or half day classes centered around natural wonders and imaginative art projects. 
  • Age groups: 3.5-18 
  • Dates: June 10-Aug. 2 

LifeLight Youth Theatre Summer Performing Arts Camp  

  • Calling all young Broadway lovers! At LifeLight, campers will spend their days learning the ins and outs of theater, from rehearsing music to building sets.  
  • Age groups: 5-19 
  • Dates: June 24-Aug. 9  

Metro Theater Company Creative Arts Camp  

  • Join Metro Theater Company Creative Arts Camp for a playful summer full of exploring drama, visual art, creative movement and music.  
  • Age groups: Pre-K-5th grade 
  • Dates: July 22-Aug. 2 

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis  

  • The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is offering campers a creative, musical journey at the Sing Out vocal camp! Featuring lessons, classes and workshops in auditioning to movement, campers will get the full professional performing experience.  
  • Age groups: 9-12 
  • Dates: June 3-7  

Pianos for People Summer Piano Camp  

  • Registration for Pianos of People Summer Piano Camps opens in March.  
  • Age groups: 7-15 
  • Dates: June 10-July 22

Saint Louis Ballet Summer Intensive  

  • Calling all dancers! Join Saint Louis Ballet for their Summer Intensive. They offer classes based on age and level of experience with a variety of genres, such as musical theatre and jazz to contemporary and hip hop.
  • Age groups: 7-21 
  • Dates: July 17-19  

STAGES St. Louis Summer Camps 

  • Does your camper want to be an influencer? What about auditioning for Saturday Night Live? STAGES has a camp for them! Browse a variety of sessions that get your camper on the stage. 
  • Age groups: 3-18 
  • Dates: June 3-Aug. 5 

Stray Dog Theatre Stray Pups Summer Camp  

  • Build up your skills in performing arts all while having fun at Stray Pups Youth Theatre Summer Camp.  
  • Age groups: TBA 
  • Dates: TBA 

St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Summer Shakespeare Studio 

  • Shake up your summer with the Summer Shakespeare Festival. Join sessions with professional Shakespeare performers, learn stagecraft and combat and perform famous Shakespearean plays.  
  • Age groups: 9-19 
  • Dates: June 3-28 

The Repertory Theatre St. Louis Camp Rep 

  • Camp Rep creates an immersive experience where campers can perform and thrive. Classes range from Broadway dance and acting to creative storytelling and scenic and lighting design.  
  • Age groups: 7-13 (must be turning 7 before the start of camp) 
  • Dates: July 8-Aug. 2 

Webster University Community Music School (CMS) Summer Programs 

  • Develop your musical skills with CMS Summer Programs. Offering a variety of options from evolving Saxophone skills to learning to write a pop song, they have something for all music lovers.  
  • Age groups: 6 months-18 
  • Dates: May 30-Aug. 2 

Photo credits: LifeLight Youth Theatre Website, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Website, COCA (Center of Creative Arts) Website, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Website

Since 1983, the Missouri Arts Council have hosted the Missouri Art Awards to honor a variety of individuals, organizations, and communities throughout the state for their significant contributions to Missouri’s artistic and cultural legacy. On Feb. 7, two Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RACSTL) grant recipients were honored at the Missouri State Capitol.  

The Laumeier Sculpture Park received the Arts Organization Award. The 105-acre open-air museum has walking trails featuring a variety of art and over 60 inspiring sculptures and aims to engage the community through art and nature.  

Catherine Dudley-Rose, writer, musician, actress and director, received the Individual Artist Award, this is the first time the Missouri Arts Council has recognized an individual for their work in film. Her first feature-length film, Parallel Chords, won many awards when theatrically released in 2019. She has also created many screenplays and short films and is now filming a multi-episode series about St. Louis-area artists, Broken Strings.  

“The Arts have a profound impact on the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of our state, and each of these honorees exemplifies the range of talent and creativity we have across Missouri,” Lieutenant Governor Kehoe said. “Congratulations to the recipients of the 2024 Missouri Arts Awards.” 

The award ceremony was held during Missouri Arts Advocacy Week, organized by Missouri Citizens for the Arts. Each year, organizations and individuals across the state come together and meet with senators and representatives to advocate for support and funding for the arts.  

Photo: (left to right) Jillian Patton, Laumeier Sculpture Park Development Director, Catherine Dudley-Rose