$20,000 Artists Fellowships Announced by Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis

Beginning in 2013, ten St. Louis artists will each be awarded a $20,000 Fellowship. This new funding of individual artists from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RAC) is based on the results of Artists Count, a comprehensive survey of regional artists and creatives which was conducted and analyzed by William Cleveland, principal of the Center for the Study of Art and Community along with his research associate Dr. Patricia Shifferd. The Kresge Foundation funded the survey.

“This is a sea change for RAC because we only have funded nonprofit organizations and consortiums since we were created in 1985,” said Jill McGuire, executive director of RAC. “This decision is in step with our visionary plan to support an environment in which artists are valued and thriving as part of a robust creative community.”

More than 3000 artists and creatives completed the survey from April through July, making it one of the largest research studies of its kind in the United States. Promoted widely to diverse audiences through traditional and social media, participants included full-time and part-time painters, writers, dancers, poets, filmmakers, musicians, photographers, graphic designers, actors, singers, composers, architects, performance artists, crafters, arts educators, videographers and others who self-identified as creatives.

According to Cleveland, “RAC’s decision to fund artists establishes the organization as a leader among local arts agencies nationally. They are committed to developing a sustainable, creative community.”

Key Findings of the Survey

  • Artists are Entrepreneurs – Most professional artists in St. Louis are small business owners who are motivated by their creativity and they spend between 10 and 50% of their time on marketing and communications.
  • Artists are Job Creators – They reported hiring more than 4100 artists and non-artists to help with their businesses.
  • Income of Artists:

    $25,000 and below = 46.4%
    $25,000 to $50,000 = 31.6%
    $50,000 to $75,000 = 12.3%
    $75,000 to $100,000 = 6.4%
    $100,000 and above = 3.3%

  • Artists Rely on Multiple Sources of Income – Only 29% of artists are able to work full-time at their art. The rest have multiple sources of income and often work at outside jobs, which are most often in teaching or arts administration.
  • Support Means More than Money – Artists need training, technical support, marketing assistance, business administration help and more.
  • Time is Money for Artists – Finding time to create their art is one of the most challenging aspects for artists.
  • St. Louis is a Leader in Artist Driven Community Development – To build healthier and more vibrant communities, artists are collaborating with people in education, youth work, community development, science, social services, parks and recreation to help build healthier and more productive communities. RAC is a leader in this area through its Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute

The findings of the survey provided RAC with a wider understanding of the creative ecosystems in St. Louis, including what artists need to be successful. As a result, RAC has created the Investment in Artists Initiative that provides direct support to artists so they can advance their careers and complete creative projects, including:

  • Artists Fellowships: Each year, ten St. Louis artists will each be awarded a $20,000 Fellowship, which is a financial investment in the careers of the selected artists and in the cultural vibrancy of the region
  • Artists Opportunity Grants: Each year, artists will be awarded from $500 to $3000 to fund special equipment and materials, rental space, arts-related travel, conference fees and other resources.
  • Workshops and Support Services: RAC will develop a series of workshops in partnership with other organizations, such as the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts, on various topics to develop professional, entrepreneurial and business skills.
  • Public Engagement and Education: RAC will continue to inform and educate the public, civic leaders and funders about the importance of the artist ecosystems and creative economy in St. Louis

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