Peace Through Pyramids: The St. Louis Arches in Israel

Last fall, Circus Harmony, an A&E PNC Project Grant recipient, was among the first group of organizations to utilize the Arts and Education Council’s crowdfunding website, wishbone

Peace Through Pyramids: Send the St. Louis Arches to Israel,” is a collaboration between Circus Harmony and the Galilee Foundation for Value Education’s Galilee Circus since 2007. The Galilee Arches, as the combined group is called, have forged lasting friendships despite language barriers and cultural gulfs. The project helped raise the necessary funds to send the St. Louis Arches to Israel to perform. The group of kids and teens left St. Louis for northern Israel on July 9, just a day after Hamas began bombing the nation. Despite fears from some people, Circus Harmony reached out to people in the area who assured them the part of the nation they would be staying in was safe.

141contortionWhile in Israel, the children teamed up with the Galilee Foundation for Value Education to perform shows for local people. During their time, the children stayed with families in the area, some Jews with Arabs and vice versa, exemplifying that despite the conflict in the region, the two groups can coexist. The troupe of 27 children performed for two weeks in various locations in front of diverse audiences. However, just as the trip started with excitement, it also ended with a bang. The night before Circus Harmony was supposed to return to St. Louis, the FAA cancelled all flights from Israel to the United States. The Israelis who had opened their homes to the children welcomed them warmly again for another week, and people donated food to the troupe. The group ended up staying in Israel for another week, and even got in a few extra performances.124ascorpion circle

Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, founder of the Galilee Circus, wrote about the collaboration in his online Galilee Diary in a post he titled The Show Must Go On. He wrote, in part, that “ these young circus artists did what circus artists do: they worked hard, learned together and from each other, and performed with all their hearts, for a variety of audiences, Arab and Jewish, through two weeks of conflict.  Black and white, Jewish and Arab, boys and girls – 27 kids building a temporary utopia of mutual trust, of multicultural friendship, of taking risks to make people smile – in a dystopian reality of fear and hatred of the Other.  And they made it look easy.. .So yes, we have to keep on defying gravity, in order to remind ourselves – and the world – that what seems impossible – is not.”

Once again, Circus Harmony is using power2give and has a project listed titled, “Circus Harmony’s Ascension CD.” Ascension is a new recording by Adam Rugo and the Circus Harmony band. The CD represents all different styles, sure to fit a variety of taste from rock to bohemian, and classical to R&B. The recording for the CD is complete, but Circus Harmony is seeking $7,840 to cover musicians’ sessions fees, duplication costs of the CD, songwriter and producer fees and money for supplies. Portions of the proceeds from the sale of the CD will benefit Circus Harmony’s Reggie Moore Memorial Scholarship Fund, which helps young people follow their dreams of being in the circus.

This project closes on Nov. 25, so donate today! Keep checking for weekly updates and new projects posted.120aaMORAN GROUP

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Update: Mustard Seed Theatre project fully funded on power2give

Mustard Seed's new floor

Mustard Seed’s new floor

With the help of generous art patrons, Mustard Seed Theatre was able to fully fund their project, “Help Us Stop BAD Falling,” in the spring of 2014. The project gave the theatre a new floor, which was completed in June in time for their 2014-2015 season. The cost of the entire project was nearly $9,000, but with the help of another grant, the theatre only needed to raise an additional $5,000 on The project was posted in November and the organization reached their funding goal in early February.

The new epoxy floor addresses safety concerns that have been around since the theatre was converted from a chapel 16 years ago. The floor and new zero-entry ramp replaces a homemade wooden ramp decorated with glowing duct tape that was used to guide patrons to their seats. The money needed for the project went for supplies and labor.

When Mustard Seed Theatre first requested funds from a grant for this project, they didn’t realize the scope of the project and were dismayed when they learned the grant would only cover half of the funds needed. This is when they turned to power2give.

“Thanks to our successful power2give campaign, we were able to complete a project that had been a safety issue for our staff and audiences – building a zero-entry ramp into our theatre.  Now our actors, crew and audiences can enter and exit the theatre safely and our patrons on wheels have a smooth ascent to the first row.  Without power2give I don’t know how we would have raised the additional funds to meet this most necessary (though not very glamorous) need,” Wobbe said.

Building the floor

Building the floor

The Arts and Education Council with Mustard Seed Theatre thank you for your generous donations that will save the arms, legs, and ankles of many theatre fans, allowing the audience to stay upright and stop bad falling! has been updated and has more new project postings! Check out projects from Circus Harmony and Masterworks Chorale, among others. Keep checking for more arts organizations with new project postings.

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St. Louis Housing Authority Launches 20th Annual Workplace Giving Campaign

The St. Louis Housing Authority, one of the Arts and Education Council’s largest government supporters, kicked off their annual giving campaign on Friday, October 3. The housing authority’s annual giving campaign supports the Arts and Education Council as well as the United Negro College Fund and United Way of Greater St. Louis. The Housing Authority has been participating in a workplace giving campaign for A&E for over 20 years, since 1994.

A&E's Development Manager Dorothy Powell with Brian Owens

A&E’s Development Manager Dorothy Powell with Brian Owens

For this year’s campaign, employees of the housing authority are participating in a 50/50 raffle in addition to making personal contributions. Employees are asked to purchase a raffle ticket for $1, or six tickets for $5. Fifty percent of the proceeds are divided between the three organizations, and the other 50 percent will go to the winner of the raffle.

Despite staff buyouts and overall budget cuts, over 80 employees came out to support the nonprofit organizations and kick off the campaign. The campaign would not be successful without the support from the employees, especially St. Louis Housing Authority Executive Director Cheryl A. Lovell. Lovell attends the campaign every year and speaks to the group garnering support, and is extremely supportive of her employees taking time from their busy work schedules to attend the campaign celebration. Another key person in this giving campaign is Althelia Powell-Thomas, the campaign coordinator who has assumed this role since 2003.

Like Lovell, Thomas is an avid supporter of the arts, singing in the St. Louis Symphony’s IN UNISON CHORUS and is a leadership level contributor to A&E.

Althelia Powell-Thomas, campaign coordinator, addresses her St. Louis Housing Authority colleagues

Althelia Powell-Thomas, campaign coordinator, addresses her St. Louis Housing Authority colleagues

“I enjoy being a coordinator, it’s engaging and it allows me to share my passion and drive when canvassing the agency for support,” she explains. “More importantly, I tell employees about the ARTS Card, which provides discounts to so many wonderful arts performances and events in town. I encourage them to visit and participate in the different arts groups so they can see what a difference their dollars are making.”

Family is an important reason as to why Thomas feels passionately about the workplace giving campaigns and specifically the Arts and Education Council. “As a child growing up I made a vow to my mother that her investment in me would not be in vain. She made sure I had the best of everything; being educated and involved in Music was at the top of her list. I honor her memory and have kept my promise,” Thomas said. “I consider A&E family,” she says. “It’s exhilarating to give the best for your family and enrich the lives of others.

Brian Owens performing "A Change is Gonna Come" a cappella style.

Brian Owens performing “A Change is Gonna Come” a cappella style.

A&E brought in renowned vocalist Brian Owens to perform at the campaign kickoff, and he delivered a heartfelt a cappella rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come.” A video of the performance can be seen below. Owens has long been a supporter of the arts in St. Louis and has recently led the social justice and organization efforts for many of the peace and unity concerts for the city of Ferguson, including #HealFerguson on Sept. 7, and “Ferguson’s Children: Our Voice,” which took place on Oct. 4. A&E helped support both concerts.

Other highlights of the campaign kickoff included presentations from both United Way and the United Negro College Fund, as well as multiple drawings for attendance prizes for employees.

A&E is so grateful for organizations like the St. Louis Housing Authority and businesses who participate in workplace giving campaigns. Workplace giving campaigns account for over one third of funds raised for arts and arts education annually. A&E could not thrive without the support of these campaigns and organizations.

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Edward Jones 2014 Gifts Top $800,000 in Support of St. Louis Arts

Edward Jones Managing Partner Jim Weddle shares his remarks at the South Campus A&E campaign kickoff event.

Edward Jones Managing Partner Jim Weddle shares his remarks at the South Campus A&E campaign kickoff event.

A leading advocate and supporter of the St. Louis arts community for over 25 years, Edward Jones partners and associates have donated more than $800,000 to the Arts and Education Council in 2014.  The majority of the funds were raised through Workplace Giving Campaigns at Edward Jones’ two corporate headquarters.

Since 1978, Edward Jones has donated more than $7 million to the Arts and Education Council with over $4 million coming from its workplace giving efforts.  “Giving back to the community where we live and work is important to our firm,” said Jim Weddle, Edward Jones managing partner.  “For more than 20 years, Edward Jones has supported the Arts and Education Council through our Workplace Giving Campaign because we believe the arts are essential to the quality of life in our community and we want to ensure that St. Louis has a vibrant arts community for all to enjoy.”

That Uppity Theatre Company's DisAbility Project performs at the Edward Jones North Campus.

That Uppity Theatre Company’s DisAbility Project performs at the Edward Jones North Campus.

The Workplace Giving Campaign team included Edward Jones Partner Chair Lisa Pelikan, and Campaign Co-Chairs Sharon Norman and Christine Pasternak.

“Edward Jones associates and principals recognize that arts and arts education enhance a region’s economic environment and greatly enrich our community,” said Cynthia A. Prost, president of the Arts and Education Council.  “By enthusiastically supporting the Arts and Education Council, Edward Jones helps to ensure our area’s legacy of excellence and provides greater opportunities for everyone in our community to experience art and culture.”

442s perform at the Edward Jones South Campus for the Workplace Giving Campaign.

442s perform at the Edward Jones South Campus for the Workplace Giving Campaign.

Revenue from Workplace Giving Campaigns is an essential component of the grants generated by the Arts and Education Council to support more than 70 arts and arts education organizations throughout the 16-county, bi-state region.

The Workplace Giving Campaign at Edward Jones branch locations took place this fall.

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New Home for Jazz St. Louis

Exterior of the new Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz.

Exterior of the new Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz.

Cue the trumpets: On October 2, Jazz at the Bistro opened its new state-of-the art performance venue and jazz education center called the Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz. The new center encompasses the former Jazz at the Bistro site, at 3536 Washington Avenue in Grand Center, and also the former Greenberg Van Doren Gallery Building, which was located next door. Jazz St. Louis now owns both spaces. Devin Rodino, director of communications for Jazz St. Louis, said the new center will house both the Ferring Jazz Bistro and Centene Jazz Education Center.

“The new Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz is going to be a real game-changer for our organization,” said Gene Dobbs Bradford, executive director of Jazz St. Louis. “Not only will we expand operations, especially our educational offerings, but we are going to provide the greater St. Louis community with one of the finest rooms for listening to jazz in the country.”  Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Orchestra inaugurated the new bistro with two performances October 2 and 3.

Interior of Nancy's jazz Lounge.

Interior of Nancy’s jazz Lounge.

The expansion is being funded by a $10 million capital campaign. Donors include David Steward, chairman of World Wide Technology, and his wife, Thelma Steward; John Ferring, chairman of PLZ Aeroscience and his wife, Alison Ferring; Centene Corporation; Ken Kranzberg, chairman of TricorBraun, and his wife, Nancy Kranzberg; Emerson; and the Jazz St. Louis Board of Directors. The Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz is named for David Steward’s parents.

Interior of the Ferring Jazz Bistro.

Interior of the Ferring Jazz Bistro.

Rodino explained that the Ferring Jazz Center boasts a total redesign of Jazz at the Bistro, with an increase in capacity to 200 people from 150. “The physical space remained almost the same,” said Rodino. “We re-oriented the room from long and narrow to wide and shallow. Even though we are increasing seating capacity, the reconfiguration actually enhances the intimacy because we are moving everyone closer to the stage. Audiences will feel much closer to the music.”

The first floor of three-story Greenberg Gallery space houses kitchen facilities for the Ferring Jazz Bistro as well as Nancy’s Jazz Lounge, named after donor Nancy Kranzberg. The jazz lounge, with a seating capacity of 75, features a bar and restaurant as well as a video wall to allow people to see the action from the bistro’s stage. “Music will be pumped it but the lounge will be more conversation friendly,” said Rodino. “It’s also a great way for people to sample jazz without having to purchase a ticket to a bistro show. And it will definitely be a great place to eat and drink before and after seeing a show at the Fox.”

The center’s second floor will serve as office space.  The Centene Jazz Education Center on the third floor will feature soundproof rehearsal and practice rooms, which can also double as a high-tech recording studio.

Jazz St. Louis is an Arts and Education Council Operating Grant Recipient. Jazz St. Louis offers 2-for-1 admission with the ARTS Card to most of its 9:30 pm performances. For more information visit our online Know and Go Calendar at

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