Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute Honored for Its Work at the Intersection of Arts and Community

June 29, 2018

Categories RAC News
Felicia Shaw stands on stage to accept star-shaped award with three executives of the Americans for the Arts.

Felicia Shaw, executive director of Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, accepts the Robert E. Gard Award at the Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention on June 16, 2018, in Denver. Pictured, from left to right, are Julie C. Muraco, board chair of Americans for the Arts; Maryo Gard Ewell, community development consultant and Arts Administration teacher at Goucher College; Shaw; and Robert L. Lynch, president & CEO of Americans for the Arts. Photo by Sylvain Gaboury, courtesy of Americans for the Arts

ST. LOUIS, June 28, 2018 — The Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute, a program of the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RAC) was recently honored with the Robert E. Gard Award. The Gard Award is presented by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization focused on expanding the arts and arts education. This award recognizes and celebrates exemplary work at the intersection of art and community. CAT was presented the award at the Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in Denver on June 16, 2018.

Founded in 1997, CAT has become a robust regional network of social workers, educators, community activists, policy-makers, and artists of all disciplines trained to use the arts as a tool for social change. Since its inception, a cohort totaling more than 350 have completed the cross-sector, five-month curriculum and are putting their learning to use throughout St. Louis. The CAT Institute is the oldest sustained training program of its kind and is a model for similar programs across the country.

“The Community Arts Training Institute is unique in that its impact is measured not by what one singular program can do, but by the collective good that happens when hundreds of people share the values of art and social change and deploy their skills for change,” Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, said. “The Institute is strengthening the community as a whole, and I congratulate them for this well-deserved recognition.”

The Gard Award highlights projects lead by individuals or organizations working to unite the arts into other aspects of community life in meaningful, measurable ways.

“CAT is an innovative program, founded on the belief that art has the power to make great social change,” Felicia Shaw, executive director of RAC, said. “We are honored to be recognized nationally for connecting people throughout the St. Louis to impact the arts, education, social justice, social work, and community engagement.”

For more information about CAT, visit RAC’s website:

The Robert E. Gard Award is named in honor of one of the founding fathers of the local arts movement and a champion of the arts’ role in the creation and maintenance of healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts.

Additional information is available at

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (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; since its inception in 1985, RAC has awarded more than 7,000 grants totaling more than $100 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 for more information, or follow us on Facebook at Regional Arts Commission or Twitter @RACStLouis.