Mission & History
Click on the image above to view the interactive 50-year timeline.
The Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis is a unique asset in our community. The Arts and Education Council is our region's only united arts fund supported by private contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations and institutions committed to the value and benefit of the arts to our community.
The Arts and Education Council serves as the base - the root, if you will - through which funding, training and collaboration happens for more than 70 arts organizations that enrich the cultural landscape of St. Louis each year.
Arts and Education Council grantees not only produce and present great art, they also maintain viable, impactful arts education and outreach programming for K-12 students throughout the bi-state area. Research continues to show that children who participate in the arts enjoy greater academic success, higher self-esteem, improved discipline, higher graduation rates and broad, creative thinking skills necessary for advancement in the world beyond school.
To build appreciation, participation and support for arts and arts education throughout the St. Louis community.
Shaping a vibrant arts community for all.
Leadership with Ethics and Integrity
Tradition of Reliability & Transparency
Respect for Diverse Voices & Ideas
Inspire Imagination and Creativity
Responsiveness in Constituent Service
Stewardship of Donor Resources
Emphasis on Innovation
Statement on Cultural Equity
To support a full creative life for all, the Arts and Education Council commits to championing policies and practices of cultural equity that empower a just, inclusive, equitable region.
- adopted by the Arts and Education Council's Board of Directors on September 29, 2016
Read the complete Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Framework
Read the Arts and Education Council's Annual Report to the Community
The Arts and Education Council was founded in 1963 when a few arts patrons took responsibility for the future of cultural activity in the St. Louis metropolitan area. This was the year that the United Way focused its mission on funding health and human services organizations, leaving nine arts organizations without funding.
Morton D. May, Margie May, J. W. McAfee, Evelyn Newman, Kenton R. Cravens, Adelaide (Jabber) Cherbonnier, Adelaide Schlafly, Edgar Monsanto Queeny and scores of others moved the concept forward. They called this effort the Spirit of St. Louis Fund.
On February 8, 1963, four members of the original Board of Directors - Malcolm W. Martin, Robert Brookings Smith, Howard F. Baer and Clarence M. Turley - signed the Articles of Incorporation and the Arts and Education Council was born. Robert Brookings Smith became the first Chairman of the Board.
In 1968, the Arts and Education Council presented the first CAMELOT auction an acronym for Cultural Auction of Many Extraordinary Lots of Treasure. This event changed the face of charity benefits in St. Louis. Other major fundraisers have included the Arts Festival for Children and the St. Louis Arts Festival.
In 1992, the first St. Louis Arts Awards was created by then President of the Arts and Education Council, Pat Rich. The St. Louis Arts Awards showcases the breadth, depth and diversity of the arts throughout our region.
In 2012, the Arts and Education Council announced another major milestone in its history – the purchase of its first home at the Centene Center for the Arts. Located in the Grand Center Arts District, the beautiful Gothic-style white glazed terra cotta façade building at 3547 Olive Street is home to 20 arts and arts education organizations. The first of its kind in the St. Louis region, the Centene Center for the Arts is an arts accelerator that offers below-market rent, shared rehearsal, event and meeting spaces as well as technological infrastructure to all of its tenants.
To learn more about the founding and early history of the Arts and Education Council, download a copy of Persuade and Provide below.