Catalyst Conversations continues with The Business of Art featuring Soul Shed University Founder JerMarco Britton. In his conversation with Jessireé Jenkins, Arts and Education Council Manager of Grants and Programs, he’ll highlight his experience of making a living and creating business in the arts.

Ahead of the discussion on June 15, learn more about Britton and his program Soul Shed University.

JerMarco Britton started Soul Shed STL in 2018 as a bi-weekly jam session that grew into an opportunity to empower local musicians to begin and sustain music careers. Like so many artists, 2020 threw him a challenge he wasn’t sure he could overcome. The financial burden of running an arts organization during the pandemic often felt insurmountable. Then the Arts and Education Council named Soul Shed University as the winner of the fourth annual stARTup Creative Competition. The competition, supported by the Arts and Education Council and PNC Foundation, encourages the development of great artistic ideas that strengthen and enhance the St. Louis arts community.

Soul Shed University 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 can build and engage in the community with their contemporaries.

“In just the short few months we’ve been working with the Arts and Education Council as a part of their stARTup Creative Competition program. We have been able to put our organization back in order amidst COVID-19 and on the path to even greater success,” said Soul Shed Founder and CEO JerMarco Britton.

Soul Shed University began their startup tenure in October using the competition prize which includes $20,000; 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.

“The office and performance spaces have increased our productivity to new heights just by having dedicated spaces to work out of. Beyond that, working closely with the staff at the Arts and Education Council on the progression of our organization and having coaching along the way has given us that extra push to continue in our mission while feeling supported and necessary,” Britton shared.

In addition to the 12-month introductory program, Soul Shed also hosts Jam Sessions and karaoke at the Centene Center for the Arts. These social distanced events are open to the public. This January, they also launched the Soul Shed STL Podcast, where the Soul Shed team discusses all things music related.

Jessireé Jenkins, the Arts and Education Council grants and programs coordinator, has been working closely with Britton since October to provide support and resources as Soul Shed grows and evolves. She shared how she has seen the Soul Shed events and jam sessions expand musicians’ networks and build their careers.

“JerMarco’s passion for helping other musicians is so evident every time I talk with him. He has been using all of the resources possible to provide support for musicians in our community. All of us at the Arts and Education Council have been extremely fortunate to work with JerMarco and learn from him, too,” said Jenkins.

Hear more from JerMarco Britton at Catalyst Conversations on June 15 at 6:30 p.m. Following the conversation, stay tuned for a virtual Soul Shed University Jam Session! Tickets are free, but registration for the virtual conversation is required.

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