Jessireé Jenkins joined the Arts and Education Council team in January 2020. She combines her background as a library professional and her interests in the arts, technology, civic engagement and social justice to guide her. She’d been with the Arts and Education Council just two short months before the world turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but through it all she has continued to keep art happening through a variety of grant and program opportunities. As the Manager of Grants and Programs, she is responsible for all grant and programs at the Arts and Education Council, ensuring good stewardship of the generosity of our community.

We sat down with Jessireé to reflect on the past year and look ahead.  Jessireé believes in the power of communities and the impact that people can have saying, “My favorite part of working at the Arts and Education Council is having an opportunity to build connections with organizations across the region and witness the great work they are doing that makes a profound impact in our community.”

There are more than 70 organizations that Jessireé interacts with and supports through Operating Support Grants, PNC Program Grants, the Arts and Education Fund for Teachers, Bayer Fund Rural Community Arts Program grants and the Arts and Healing Initiative. She also oversees the Leadership Roundtables and in 2021 oversaw the Katherine Dunham Fellowship and the stARTup Creative Competition.

The stARTup Creative Competition, supported by PNC Foundation and the Arts and Education Council, encourages the development of great artistic ideas that strengthen and enhance the St. Louis arts community.

The 2020 winner Soul Shed University received a $20,000 prize; one year of space and incubation support in the Centene Center for the Arts, the Arts and Education Council’s arts incubator; free performance and meeting space; access to technology and Wi-Fi; and mentoring, idea-sharing and professional development opportunities.

Soul Shed University, founded by JerMarco Britton, is a 12-month introductory program designed to empower the independent musicians of today with all the necessary tools to begin and sustain a music career. Jessireé shared how fun it has been getting to work with Soul Shed University over the last year, “JerMarco is so talented and ambitious. I’m glad that I got to see his journey firsthand. Watching him receive this award and grow his business makes me happy. His success is the community’s.”

Not only does Jessireé support the arts in her work, but it’s also a big part of her life outside of the Arts and Education Council, too. She has supported various programs around the area by volunteering and she is currently the board president of A Call to Conscience, an interactive theater collective that stirs the conscience of our community and facilitates social change. Her favorite art form to enjoy is music. She shared that she enjoys, “Attending concerts, listening parties, and in my former life playing an instrument.”

To learn more about the Grants and Programs that Jessireé oversees at Or, say hello next time you see her when you are at a local arts event.

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