The arts create benefits that ripple across our community, which is why since 1963 the Arts and Education Council (A&E) has connected arts organizations, artists and people in meaningful ways thanks to thousands of generous supporters.

Just one example of that ripple effect is 17-year-old pianist Royce Martin.

Martin’s ripple effect began three years ago when he picked up his sister’s toy keyboard and began teaching himself to play piano by watching YouTube videos.

That turned into his music teacher at the Grand Center Arts Academy (GCAA), a past A&E grantee, introducing him to Pianos for People, an honoree at A&E’s 2017 St. Louis Arts Awards. Continuing the ripple, the organization helped Martin’s family get a full-sized piano for their home.

Lessons and a full-sized piano led to Martin winning the 2016 St. Louis Teen Talent Competition, where A&E funds one of the prizes. Martin won five prizes that day – including Audience Favorite.

Then in January 2017, Martin performed in honor of Pianos for People at A&E’s 2017 St. Louis Arts Awards, where he received a standing ovation for his original composition, “Safari Nzuri.”

Three months later, Martin was awarded a paid internship with Open Studio Network (a tenant in A&E’s Centene Center for the Arts) through A&E’s Art Education Fund. Through the ongoing internship, Martin is learning the business side of the music industry and taking lessons with St. Louis’ own international piano star, Peter Martin, and Open Studio Network.

Now Royce is auditioning for the top music conservatories in the country, where he hopes to continue studying piano and composition, ultimately embarking on a career in the industry.

Because of the ripple effect of the arts, one meaningful arts experience with a piano uncovered a hidden talent and led to a life path. While inspiring, his story isn’t unique. Your gift to A&E helps ripple effect stories like Martin’s happen nearly every day. For more stories about the ripple effect of the arts in our region, click here.

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To start a ripple effect of the arts with a gift to A&E, click here.

To watch Royce play at the 2017 St. Louis Arts Awards, click here.