A&E Receives Missouri Arts Award in Jeff City Today

The Arts and Education Council was presented with a Missouri Arts Award for Philanthropy in a ceremony today at the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City. Initiated in 1983, the Missouri Arts Awards honor individuals and organizations that have made profound and lasting contributions to the cultural and artistic climate of the state. Each year, Missouri Arts Award nominees are reviewed by a committee of Missouri citizens from throughout the state who are knowledgeable, experienced, and highly respected in the arts.

In addition to A&E, other honorees included St. Louis ArtWorks, Arts Education; Mount Vernon Regional Arts Council, Arts Organization; City of Webster Groves, Creative Community; Vesta Johnson, Kirkwood, Individual Artist; Pat Jordan, Kansas City, Leadership in the Arts; and Henry Bloch, Kansas City, Lifetime Achievement.

The Arts and Education Council has been a leader in philanthropy for the arts for five decades and has helped shape St. Louis' vibrant arts and culture scene. The organization is a dynamic collaboration of businesses, individuals and community partners who work to raise private funds to enhance the quality and variety of arts experiences throughout the 16-county, bi-state St. Louis metropolitan region.

Since its founding, A&E has raised and distributed over $100 million in private funding for the arts - a significant contribution that directly impacts our quality of life. As the region's only united arts fund, A&E annually provides financial, technical and educational support to nearly 70 arts and arts education organizations, helps build audiences and increases the base of arts supporters.

Over a five-decade span, A&E has provided more than 2,800 grants to organizations located in urban, suburban and rural communities of all sizes and demographics. A&E's grantees are required to have an educational component, and many work directly with schools, community centers and teachers to reach underserved and at-risk populations. They must demonstrate strong fiscal responsibility, produce top-quality arts programs and use art experiences as tools to enrich the cultural vibrancy of our community.

"The Arts and Education Council has been a leader in philanthropy since our founding in 1963," stated Cynthia A. Prost, A&E president. "A&E funding supports world-class arts institutions of all types and sizes. It brings arts programs to at-risk youth and underserved populations. It helps make St. Louis a vibrant, engaging place to live, work and invest. All of this is possible because of the dedication and generosity of our donors. Every dollar that A&E raises comes from private sources. The spirit of philanthropy inspires all of our supporters -- from major corporations to small, local businesses, to school districts and government agencies and to foundations and individual donors. This award also belongs to them, our community partners, and we are forever grateful for their generosity," noted Prost.

Workplace Giving Campaigns are the foundation of A&E's fundraising efforts. They offer employees the opportunity to support myriad arts and arts education organizations with one gift to A&E. More than 100 local businesses and institutions annually conduct A&E Workplace Giving Campaigns.

In January 2013, A&E kicked off its 50th anniversary year celebration at its signature event, the annual St. Louis Arts Awards. Presented since 1992, this celebration recognizes those who have achieved a legacy of excellence in the arts in St. Louis, and organizations and businesses that enrich St. Louis' arts and cultural community.

A&E owns and manages the Centene Center for Arts and Education in the burgeoning Grand Center Arts District. The first of its kind in the St. Louis region, the Centene Center serves as an arts incubator that offers below-market rent, shared rehearsal, event and meeting spaces and secure technological infrastructure to its tenants, now 17 nonprofit arts organizations.

Under the leadership of A&E President Prost, selected in 2012 by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of its Most Influential Business Women, the Arts and Education Council launched the Arts Management and Leadership Academy, a series of affordable workshops that provide training and support for arts and cultural organizations and facilitates the Executive Directors Roundtable, a professionally led program for arts leaders. A&E is committed to developing unique approaches to problem solving, leadership and community involvement and preparing the future generation of arts leaders.

This past November, A&E was recognized with the Spirit of Philanthropy Award from the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals at a luncheon celebrating National Philanthropy Day.

A&E meets all 20 Better Business Bureau Charity Standards and has earned the Wise Giving Seal of Approval, assuring donors that it maintains the highest standard of fiscal responsibility, fundraising and governance. In addition, A&E has earned the Guide Star Valued Partner Exchange Seal, demonstrating its commitment to transparency, and a three-star rating from Charity Navigator.

The arts are among our community's greatest assets. Whether it's music, dance, theatre, film, literary or visual arts, they teach us, inspire us and make us smile. The arts also annually support 10,000 jobs in the region and generate more than $582 million for the local economy. A thriving arts community makes St. Louis a more exciting, engaging place to live, work and play. Moving forward and with community support of A&E, arts and culture will continue to play an essential role in educating children and adults, enhancing their quality of life and positively impacting and inspiring innovation throughout the region.

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