RAC Awards $393,720 in Innovation Grants

Regional Arts Commission Awards

$393,720 in Innovation Grants

  St. Louis – November 17, 2014 – The Regional Arts Commission (RAC) has awarded Innovation Grants, totaling $393,720 to five St. Louis cultural organizations.  The grants support groups that think in new ways and take risks to accomplish artistic or administrative goals.

RAC’s visionary decision to create the Innovation Grants, now in its third year, was in response to changing environments facing the arts today – economically, socially and technologically.

“These innovation grants provide the support necessary for arts organizations to implement new ideas that they haven’t been able to try and that’s exciting,” said Jill McGuire, executive director of RAC. “These grants will both impact the St. Louis cultural landscape as well as advance the organizations’ capacity to grow and engage the community.”

The Innovation Grants are a strategy developed to support RAC’s visionary plan which is designed to further its national leadership role in promoting the arts.

Of the 52 letters of intent submitted, 14 applicants were invited to write full proposals.  The proposals were reviewed by RAC staff and a panel of RAC Commissioners, with the final five grants approved by the full Commission.

The grants are open to nonprofit organizations (or consortiums between two or more organizations) in St. Louis city or county that produce or present art.  Arts organizations are also encouraged to collaborate with non-arts organizations and businesses.

The recipients of the 2014 RAC Innovation Fund Grants are listed here with full descriptions.

 African Musical Arts, Inc. – $50,000

African Musical Arts will createthe “African Performing Arts Exchange.” The project will produce and record concert performances of works by composers of African descent and build a web-based platform that will provide a comprehensive digital database for sheet music; audio and video recordings; podcasts; streaming audio of special concerts; and a referral service with links to composers, arrangers, transcribers and other resources.  It will include an interactive interface for third party contributors to upload and share their audios, videos, sheet-music, commentaries, performance practice, cross-cultural influences, and general performance notes.   Performers, arts presenters, educators, students, researchers and the general public will be able to search music by various categories, browse and download available resources and upload new material to be considered for inclusion.  The “African Performing Arts Exchange”, will enhance the way their organization does business, allowing the organization to use tools of modern technology to expand the scope of their operations and positioning it to reach a wider audience.  The project is proposed to take place over two years.

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) – $83,720

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis will commission a new series of landscape architecture installations within the museum’s courtyard, these two installation cycles will take place during the warmer months of 2015 and 2016. This initiative will see the previously brute concrete space of the museums courtyard transformed into an inviting green space. CAM’s curatorial staff will oversee the artist selection, along with the design, fabrication, installation, and maintenance of the projects. For the first installation, CAM curators will commission one of the three international landscape architectural firms, at the forefront of communal garden design: Balmori and Associates, Legge Lewis Legge, LLC, and Nomad Studio. All three firms have proven their innovative approach to combining contemporary art and design with natural elements, with a focus on the social and environmental impacts of landscape design. The commissioned architects will turn the bare courtyard into a gallery space and a communal space, considering the significant visual impact their work will have when viewed through the floor-to-ceiling windows from inside the museum.

CAM plans to explore these installations through a variety of programs that invite both casual experiential moment as well as in-depth considerations of the hybrid of botany, design, horticulture and fine art. One aspect of programming will be weekly social events, which will encourage new audiences to engage with the museum through this green space. Simultaneously CAM will offer more content driven talks and workshops with local landscape architects, gardener, and environmental scientists to engage hobbyists, professionals, and lifelong learners.

Grand Center, Inc. – $100,000

Grand Center will engage a design team to design and construct at least one section of the “AMP Connector” project that will make interesting uses of the alleys, passageways and niches in the Grand Center District. The central concept is to make the District more appealing to patrons, tourists, and residents through engaging and unique design solutions for spaces that currently fall outside ordinary design visions. The chosen artist will lead the design team and a selection of other professionals required for the construction of the project. In the process, the project will help to establish design standards for buildings and alleys by transcending decorative design and moving into functional, inhabitable “pedestrian embracing” design. Grand Center will be transformed into a human-friendly environment with communal “resting places” where meals and refreshments can be enjoyed, as well as passageways for pedestrians and cyclists that effectively connect businesses, organizations, and residential buildings with the artistic attractions along Grand Avenue.

The Sheldon – $100,000

The Sheldon will build a “Vertical Garden” that will transform the look of The Sheldon — a highly visible statement about their commitment to the arts that will engage the community with creative place-making, as well as create new entrepreneurial opportunities by modeling vertical gardens for the Midwest. The Sheldon Vertical Garden will be the key feature of The Sheldon Plaza, a pedestrian walkway planned for the western edge of Sheldon facilities.  Ben Gilmartin is the designer of the Vertical Garden project and heads the same team that created the recently opened Public Media Commons immediately behind the Sheldon. The Vertical Garden will be three-stories high and 240 feet long, featuring a mix of Missouri vines and plants growing up an artistically designed cabling and rod system. Small LED lights will be embedded along the garden to create a magical atmosphere at night.  The Sheldon has engaged the participation of Missouri plant experts at the Missouri Botanical Garden and will develop a model that can be replicated throughout St. Louis and the Midwest to create a year-round green wall. The project will provide outdoor seating for visitors and an environment for outside performances.

Show-Me Sound Organization – $60,000

Show-Me Sound Organization will transform street intersections into interactive, creative spaces through a series of seemingly spontaneous performances, entitled “The Art of Intersection”. These performances will be from the Show Me Sound drum line and will feature a strong visual component of giant collaboratively designed puppets to enhance the drum line’s theatrical engagement. The giant puppets and other visual elements will be made in workshops, facilitated by collaborative artists at the Pink House in Pagedale.

Show Me Sound seeks to reach the community where it exists and observe how the community engages itself, on its own terms, around a spontaneous presence of art. The street performances will take place as pre-show engagements and as pre- or post-game activities to add a tremendous artistic and cultural dimension to the region. Additionally, the organization will design and maintain a new interactive website, complete with the hashtag #Artofintersection that includes live feeds and streaming information for viewing the street performances. The project will provide support to artists who will plan, structure, coordinate, and provide artistic services as part of the project. The funds will also go towards obtaining appropriate municipal licensing to approve the street performances and for art materials needed at each intersection during performances. This project will build relationships with the engaged municipalities with the goal of the continuation of the project as a youth initiative in those communities.

About the Regional Arts Commission www.racstl.org

The Regional Arts Commission (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. As the largest annual funder of the arts in the region, since its inception in 1985, RAC has awarded more than 6,300 grants totaling over $84 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 County, RAC is a pivotal force in the continuing development and marketing of the arts in the region. www.racstl.org. Follow us on FACEBOOK at Regional Arts Commission or TWITTER at RACStLouis.






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