stARTup Creative Competition | Arts and Education Council of St. Louis

2020 stARTup Creative Competition

Arts and Education Council stARTup Creative Competition

The stARTup Creative Competition, a partnership between the Arts and Education Council and PNC Foundation, encourages the development of great ideas with art at their core that strengthen and enhance the St. Louis arts community.

Soul Shed University has been named the 2020 stARTup Creative Competition winner. Learn more about Soul Shed here.


Winners of the stARTup Creative Competition receive:

  • a cash prize
  • one year of free office, performance, rehearsal and meeting space within the Arts and Education Council's Centene Center for the Arts
  • an official address at the Centene Center for the Arts
  • access to technology and Wi-Fi
  • professional development and idea sharing opportunities


  • To compete, ventures must promote the arts or have arts or arts education at their core
  • The organization or idea may be organized as a 501(c)(3) organization, individuals who have a business license, or organizations with LLC or LLP status
  • Organizations or ideas must be in existence for 2 years or less
  • Each organization or individual may submit only one proposal
  • Submissions must be the original work of the person submitting the proposal
  • The judging panel reserves the right to disqualify any entry
  • A panel made up of entrepreneurs and broad thinkers will review the application that describes the organization, business plan, the showcase/idea and how it meets the stARTup Competition Criteria and Rules. 
  • The panel is looking for potential. Make sure to clearly define your vision and potential impact in the community.
  • After the initial review the panel will select finalists to present their idea and a more in-depth business plan. Finalists will be given specific instructions and a timeline for their presentation.



A judging panel will review the proposals. In the initial round, the panel is looking for potential. Make sure to clearly define your vision and potential impact in the community. The panel is looking for ideas that meet the following criteria:

  • Focus on the arts. The proposal explains how their idea and model fits into the arts mainstream, meaning that the proposal addresses the needs of the artist, the customer or user, and/or all relevant arts stakeholders.
  • Impact. The arts-focused project provides an innovative approach to solving a real need in the arts community or a unique way to increase the cultural impact of the arts.

After the initial review, the panel will select finalists to present their idea. Finalists will be given specific instructions and a timeline for the final competition presentation. 


Does my idea have to be new?

Ideas do not have to be new, but the approach must be unique. We encourage applicants to have innovative ideas that bring new ways of thinking and addressing the arts in our community.

How will I know if I made it to the final round?

All applicants will receive notification of their outcome. Those chosen to proceed to the final presentation will receive specific instructions for that next step.

Is the final presentation required to be in person?

Yes, this is an in-person presentation by at least one member of the organization/idea in order to be considered.

What is included in the final presentation?

The final pitch will describe a clear strategy and milestones that you will execute to create a financially sustainable venture. The presentation is delivered without electronic aids such as PowerPoint. If you have an organizational website, you may email this weblink in advance, so panelists have an opportunity to view it prior to the presentations. You may distribute a one-page handout. You will be required to answer the following four items completely:

1. Describe the need in our community that your stARTup addresses and how your idea will address the need you identified. Include goals that are specific and time sensitive, objectives and actions.

2. Identify any competing organizations that are currently addressing this need and explain what you are proposing.

3. If your stARTup is chosen, describe what your first order of business will be if you are selected.

4. Provide a brief, general budget and articulate how you will use the funds.

What happens if our organization fails?

Not all startups succeed and we understand that. If your startup fails during the year-long incubation period, you will not be required to “pay back” previously disbursed funds, but will forfeit any additional funds that have not been requested for allocation.