In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the arts are playing a critical role of keeping people connected and engaged with one another and providing outlets for creative expression. In the future, the arts will have a critical role in helping people heal – physically and mentally. To ensure the future of the arts in our community, it's necessary to support the artists who need us now more than ever.

That’s why the Regional Arts Commission (RAC), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) and 15 other arts organizations created Arts United STL, a free virtual benefit in support of RAC’s Artist Relief Fund, which provides critical aid to St. Louis working artists whose creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by pandemic. To date, the Artist Relief Fund has distributed $136,500 in direct support to individual artists.Produced by OTSL in partnership with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, the Arts United STL benefit will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 31 and feature performances from local arts organizations, including The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, Metro Theater Company, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Saint Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, and more.

Watch the Arts United STL Trailer

Arts United STL was first envisioned by OTSL General Director Andrew Jorgensen as a way for St. Louis’ established arts institutions to come together and support the community’s vibrant arts ecosystem.

“I’m grateful that the community has supported this effort and helped us look past our own organizational challenges and see how we can be of service more broadly," shared Andrew Jorgenson, “As a new St. Louisan, I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the St. Louis community, by the civic pride and amazing support that you can find here.”

All participating organizations are donating their time, with production costs and staffing needs covered by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, additional staffing needs covered by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, and an in-kind production support from Switch. The program will be directed by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Tom Ridgely.

“One of the goals of the Arts United STL is to not only raise $250,000 but gather 1000 donors to show our working artists how this community supports them and their work. I invite everyone to tune in on May 31 and ask that every individual consider a donation of any amount to help us reach our 1000 goal” said Mont Levy, chair of the board of commissioners at RAC. “It is our strength and a source of resilience which will be the foundation upon which St Louis will rebuild its arts community as we get to the other side of this devastating pandemic.”

The arts and culture sector is an important driver for the St. Louis economy. Since the start of the pandemic, based on research conducted by Americans for the Arts, 89% of St. Louis City and County arts institutions have canceled events that would have reached more than 285,000 individuals. 

Watch Arts United STL

Arts United STL will be available on Opera Theatre’s website at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited and their YouTube channel here. Viewers will be encouraged to donate to the RAC Artist Relief Fund during the concert. Donations can be made at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited at any time before, during, or after the live event.