A&E News and Events
Centene Center for the Arts: Empowering the Next Generation of Arts Organizations
17 January, 2017
The Centene Center for the Arts is a dynamic, vibrant arts accelerator in the heart of Grand Center. Owned and operated by the Arts and Education Council, the Centene Center is home to 19 arts and non-profit organizations.
Centene Center tenants receive administrative office spaces at below-market rates. In addition, the Center also offers tenants access and use of the Arthur and Helen Baer Visual Arts Galleries plus event, rehearsal and performances spaces in the Pulaski Atrium, Rialto Ballroom and rooftop terrace at no additional cost.
“The Centene Center is a key component of A&E’s to empower established and emerging arts organizations to apply more of their resources to expanding and enriching their artistic and education programming efforts; thereby expanding their reach and making a greater impact in our community,” said Cynthia A. Prost, A&E President and CEO.
The Centene Center for the Arts began its life in the late 1880s as a dance studio. In 1906 additional frontage was deeded and in 1907 Archbishop John J. Glennon dedicated the building as the new home of the Knights of Columbus. The architectural masterpiece, designed by Baker and Knell, would become the showpiece for the Knights of Columbus for decades. In later years, the structure served as home to the International Machinists Union and the Medinah Temple.
In 2003, the Arts and Education Council had a vision to create an arts accelerator. Working with Grand Center, the City of St. Louis, and Owen Development, A&E renovated the historic building using both public and private funds; including a lead gift from the Centene Charitable Foundation. Many of the original architectural features were preserved and after 20 years without occupancy, the Centene Center for the Arts opened in 2006 as the home for the arts that it is today.
Three of the Center’s first tenants were Dance St. Louis, Jazz St. Louis, and St. Louis Artworks. Each these organizations incubated at the Centene Center for ten years and each subsequently accelerated out of the center into their own or new, expanded spaces. Notably, ArtWorks purchased a building on Delmar Boulevard to accommodate its growing summer art programs for high schools students; while Jazz St. Louis not only purchased its performance venue, the Ferring Jazz Bistro, but also purchased an adjacent building to build the Emerson Center for Jazz Education. Together, Jazz St. Louis’s new complex is referred to as the Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz and has garnered nationwide acclaim for its cutting-edge approach to jazz performance and education.
Current Centene Center tenants range from performing and visual arts organizations to social justice nonprofits.
For more information about the Centene Center and its tenants, visit http://keeparthappening.org/centene-center.