The Arts and Education Council has named Soul Shed University as the winner of the fourth annual stARTup Creative Competition. The competition, supported by the PNC Foundation and the Arts and Education Council, encourages the development of great artistic ideas that strengthen and enhance the St. Louis arts community.

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. Partnering with St. Louis-based professionals within the music business and a few specialized areas of focus, Soul Shed University takes the concept of a master class and expands it into a full curriculum. Students receive instruction outside the realm of academia and have the opportunity to build and engage in the community with their contemporaries. Soul Shed University offers four areas of study: music performance, music business, music education and wellness.

“Soul Shed University fills a critical need in our arts community for musicians of all genres to receive access to the tools and education necessary to create thriving careers,” said Cynthia A. Prost, Arts and Education Council president and CEO. “Through this program, participants can develop these skills with fellow musicians in a virtual format ― and when it it’s safe to do so, in person. We look forward to providing the resources, mentorship and connections needed to help JerMarco empower local musicians.”

Beginning Oct. 1, Soul Shed University will receive 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.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are among the attributes that define St. Louis’ robust startup landscape, business community and arts environment,” said Michael Scully, PNC regional president for St. Louis. “The stARTup Creative Competition provides a vehicle for bringing together what makes each of these communities successful, turning artistic concepts and business plans into projects that enhance the community in a meaningful way.”

Winners were selected by a panel of local arts and entrepreneurial experts, including Debbie Marshall, PNC Bank; Sheila Burkett, Spry Digital; and Matt Homann, Filament.

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