MK Stallings joined the Regional Arts Commission as the Arts & Economic Prosperity Study 6 Lead* in 2022. He is an artist, sociologist, educator and leader of an arts organization. His work stems from an unexpected career in the arts and his mission of uplifting artists of color. He believes audience and artist are connected through the exhibition of art, forging community through this phenomenological experience.
Stallings got his start as an artist by creating hip hop music while in middle school, crafting beats on a Casio keyboard, playing a few keys over and over as though looped over a preset drumbeat. While he has a passion for art, he explored sociology while in college, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in the discipline.
After he completed his graduate work in sociology, he found his interests broadening to include questions about art, self and audience. His work as an arts administrator began in 1999, as he coordinated events under the name Urban Artist Alliance. In 2001, a request from a staffer at the Juvenile Detention Center to facilitate youth poetry workshops for detainees pushed Stallings to incorporate his organization as a Missouri nonprofit and engage in teaching artist work. Later, he would open UrbArts Gallery in Old North St. Louis, which houses key visual and performing arts programs of Urbstetiks, Inc.
Moving forward, Stallings will draw from his background in sociology and work in the creative sector to capture data that represents the diversity, successes and challenges that arts organizations experience in the St. Louis metropolitan area. By surveying as many of the arts and culture nonprofits as possible, the study findings will provide a clear picture of how audiences are exposed to art in the region. In addition to his work as AEP 6 Lead, Stallings teaches sociology for the St. Louis Community College.