A thriving arts community is a mark of a culture’s richness. By that measure, St. Louis is certainly rich. On Jan. 25, the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis will hold its 25th Annual St. Louis Arts Awards at the Chase Park Plaza. The honors are bestowed on businesses, organizations and individuals who have contributed in significant ways to the arts in our city. This year, the event will be co-chaired by Jim and Stacey Weddle. Presenting sponsors are World Wide Technology and the Steward Family Foundation. Among the seven to be honored are Dr. Jacquelyn Lewis-Harris, director of the Connecting Human Origin and Cultural Diversity program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Doug Erwin, fine arts content leader for the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

Lewis-Harris has been leading the program at UMSL for the past 15 years. “Connecting Human Origin” is an applied anthropology program that introduces the study of race to the public. Much of her life has been spent collaborating between arts organizations and individuals. “Artists don’t alwaOFC-A&E-2-12.16ys know who to talk to or how to show their work,” she says. But Lewis-Harris helps them make the connections. As an example, Lewis-Harris—who also has been a curator at the Saint Louis Art Museum—is currently working with COCA to display the murals painted in response to the 2014 events in Ferguson. “There is a lot going on in St. Louis’ arts community, but it is scattered,” she says. “The Arts and Education Council is important because it gathers everyone under one umbrella.”

In his role as content leader at McCluer High School in Florissant, Erwin has built the largest African-American high school theater program in Missouri. The McCluer Thespian Troupe performed in Delphi, Greece, in 2007. Erwin also is the co-founder and chair of the Fine Arts Regional Consortium, a professional learning network. He says St. Louis is privileged to have such a diverse arts community, but he’s concerned that people aren’t necessarily aware of all the options here. “We need to understand the relationship between participation in the arts and the overall well-being of a community. The Arts and Education Council greatly helps this awareness,” he says.

“Through their selfless contributions of time, talent and treasure, these individuals and organizations are true contributors to our community’s vitality,” Cynthia A. Prost, president of the Arts and Education Council, says about the honorees. “Their dedication and vision for our city mean that our lives continue to be enriched.”

Proceeds from the event benefit the Arts and Education Council’s annual giving campaign. which provides financial support, professional development, incubator space and opportunities for nearly 70 arts and arts education organizations throughout the region.

2016 honorees
>Agnes Wilcox, Prison Performing Arts (Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award)
>The Arthur and Helen Baer Charitable Foundation (Excellence in Philanthropy)
>The Bosman Twins, jazz recording artists (Excellence in the Arts)
>Bach Society of St. Louis (Excellence in the Arts)
>Dr. Tim and Kim Eberlein (Champions of the Arts)
>Dr. Jacquelyn Lewis-Harris, director of “Connecting Human Origin and Cultural Diversity,”
>University of Missouri-St. Louis (Arts Collaborator)
>Doug Erwin, fine arts content leader, Ferguson-Florissant School District (Art Educator of the Year).

Photo: Co-chairs Stacey and Jim Weddle
Photo courtesy of Arts & Education Council

[The 2016 St. Louis Arts Awards will be held Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, at the Chase Park Plaza beginning with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. Pictured on the cover: Award winners Dwight Bosman, Dr. Tim and Kim Eberlein and Dwayne Bosman at the Centene Center for Arts and Education, owned and operated by A&E. For more information, call 314.289.4009 or visit keeparthappening.org. Presenting Sponsors: World Wide Technology, Steward Family Foundation; Silver Anniversary Sponsor: Edw ard Jones; Principal Sponsor: Emerson; Stage and Entertainment Sponsor: Centene Charitable Foundation; Gift Sponsor: Ameren; Art Educator of the Year Award Sponsor: Monsanto Fund; Excellence in the Arts Aw ard Sponsor-The Bosman Twins: Nancy and Ken Kranzberg; Gift Bag Sponsor: PNC Bank; Principal Benefactor Sponsor: Lynne and Jim Turley; Premier Table Sponsor: Siteman Cancer Center; Major Benefactors: Ernst & Young, LLP, Alison and John Ferring, Fox Family Foundation, Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University, Webster University; Production Sponsor: Switch; Table Sponsors: Arthur & Helen Baer Charitable Foundation, BKD, LLP, BMO Private Bank, The Big Muddy Dance Company, Bryan Cave, LLP, Dr. Tim and Kim Eberlein, Express Scripts, HOK, Lashly & Baer, PC, Mr. and Mrs. Chris and Kris Lewis, Maritz, Maryville University, Jim and Merry Mosbacher, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, Saint Louis Art Museum, Staenberg Family Foundation, Thompson Coburn, LLP, Webster University-Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, Whitfield School; Honoree Luncheon Sponsor: Regional Business Council.]