On April 1, the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) of St. Louis launched a new initiative to bring more tourists to the region to experience the arts. StLouisArts.org provides an immersive arts experience to local residents as well as potential tourists from across the country.
“In the last year, we’ve done a lot of listening in our community,” said Jay Scherder, communications senior manager at the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, “and the message from our artists, arts organizations and venues was clear – St. Louis needed a central hub for people to explore all the amazing things we have to offer in arts and culture.”
The new StLouisArts.org website will help guide people to the more than 30 theaters and theater companies, 40 music venues and 50 galleries and museums in St. Louis City and St. Louis County. It will also direct local, regional and national tourists to festivals, comedy venues, dance performances, and more.
“The arts are the heart and soul of St. Louis,” said Andrea Purnell, RAC Board of Commissioners chair. “It’s a place where you can experience creativity up close – where you can discover your own artist within. StLouisArts.org will help people explore our vibrant arts scene in a way they couldn’t before. It’s truly a game changer.”
The website launch coincides with a major marketing campaign, a first for RAC. The nonprofit organization will target regional markets like Kansas City and Chicago, as well as places like Springfield, Peoria and Columbia.
“What we are really excited about is our marketing efforts outside of Missouri and Illinois,” said Scherder. “We are going to target art-minded cities with large young professional populations. It’s why we chose Indianapolis and Columbus (OH) as our first test markets.”
The new initiative is more than just a website and advertising, Scherder added. It’s about lifting up the St. Louis art community.
“When people come experience the arts from out of town, they often stay in hotels. The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis gets 99 percent of its revenue from the hotel/motel tax in St. Louis City and St. Louis County. The more people we bring to town, the more revenue we receive. The more revenue we receive, the more grants we can give to our arts and culture community.”
According to the latest data from Americans for the Arts, the arts mean business in St. Louis. The arts and culture sector provides more than 19,000 full-time jobs and contributes $600 million in economic activity in the region. It brings more than 12 million tourists each year.
“We don’t think 12 million is enough,” said Scherder. “We want St. Louis to be one of the top arts and culture destinations in the entire country. This initiative is just the start of making that happen.”
The Regional Arts Commission was founded in 1985. In last 38 years, the organization has given more than $100 million in grants to some 7,500 artists and arts organizations – making RAC the largest public funder of the arts in the region.