In case you missed it, earlier this year the Arts and Education Council (A&E) – in partnership with the PNC Foundation - announced its first ever stARTup Competition. The competition’s goals were aimed at challenging local individuals and organizations to come up with innovative ways to address challenges in the St. Louis region through the arts.

Of the 31 submissions received, the diverse panel of entrepreneurs and community leaders selected two winners: Creative Reaction Lab and Flow.

We sat down with the two women behind these organizations, Antionette Carroll and Amanda Wells to talk arts innovation, community development, and the importance of the arts in our city.

Founded in 2014, Antionette Carroll developed Creative Reaction Lab which works with community members to come up with solutions or interventions about racial inequities. Particularly trying to build a new form of civic leader which are equity centered community designers.

“It is an honor [to be selected as a winner]. I am such a huge fan of the Arts and Education Council’s work,” says Carroll. “Being on the winning teams for this competition helped us add validity and credibility to what we’re doing but allowed us to join an already fruitful network and group they’re working with.”

Flow is the brainchild and decade-long dream of Amanda Wells, a local writer with a degree in writing communities and urban studies. Wells aims to create a central haven for the region’s writers - a place where writers, could-be writers and artists who want to work with writers converge to learn from each other, collaborate and call home.

“This has been a dream for me for about ten years now. Gratitude is the first thing that comes to mind,” says Wells. ”I feel very privileged to have this opportunity. I feel so excited to live in a city where these kinds of things are importance.”

Check out the July/August issue of Happenings for more from our conversation.

For more information on A&E’s stARTup Competition, click here.

To learn more about Creative Reaction Lab, visit