During the Fall 2023 semester, The Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity (CRE2) announced a new special funding opportunity. The CRE2 Arts & Culture Community Grants will support individuals and organizations in the St. Louis metro area engaged in creative practice that forefronts race and/or ethnicity. Our goal is to provide direct support for proposals in the humanities, arts, and design that engage the lived realities of the St. Louis Metro region.  

St. Louis is associated with racial tension and inequity.  In the minds of outsiders and St. Louisans alike, the city is defined by “The Divide”—disparities, deficits, and discrimination. These divides and disparities are deep and long-standing, and CRE2 shares an ambition with the region’s stakeholders and Washington University to disrupt and ameliorate them.   

However, we often miss the ways that race and ethnicity are assets for St. Louis, seen perhaps most clearly and richly in the arts and St. Louis’s cultural institutions.  This is true equally of the creatives that have made a home in St. Louis as visual artists, writers, musicians, designers, and dancers; and “micro” institutions that serve many cultures and ethnicities; and the region’s legacy cultural institutions.   

Of course, these contrasting stories – of racial conflict and cultural vibrancy – also collide in St. Louis and our region and are reflected in enduring challenges like perpetual neglect of minority-serving arts and culture institutions, selective cultural heritage preservation, and representations of race and ethnicity – including erasure – on the memorial landscape. 

The CRE2 Arts & Culture Community Grants hope to help address these and other issues by serving as a collaborative space for race and/or ethnicity and the arts and culture in St. Louis. 

 The goals of the CRE2 Arts & Culture Community Grants are to: 

  1. Incubate new creative work, community initiatives and, where relevant, related research at the intersection of race and/or ethnicity and arts and culture.  
  1. Galvanize and amplify efforts to use arts and culture initiatives as a driver for interracial and interethnic community and racial and/or ethnic equity, including heritage preservation and reparative commemorative projects. 

The CRE2 Arts & Culture Community Grant aims to continue and build on the work foregrounded by the Divided City Initiative with the generous support of the Mellon Foundation. This special opportunity is presented in partnership with The Center for the Humanities & The Office for Socially Engaged Practice. 

2023-2024 Arts & Culture Community Grant Awardees

Damon Davis, Ligeia Mare

Ligeia Mare is a sci-fi electronic fantasy opera written and composed by Damon Davis. Inspired by the life and philosophy of jazz legend Sun Ra, the story follows Cosmo, an awkward adolescent with the gift of astral projection while dreaming. The project explores themes of self-empowerment, familial relationships, and the Black imagination.

The Japanese American Citizen’s League (JAC-STL), “InVISIBLE: A Reclaiming of the Asian Gaze”

InVISIBLE: A Reclaiming of the Asian Gaze, a multi-day showcase of art, a multicultural and multi-generational creative expression workshop, and an accompanying booklet of written and digital expressions. This program is
conceived to uplift the perspectives and voices of the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community in the greater St. Louis region.

Shine Goodie, “Goodie House Stories and Poetry”

Centering queer, black, brown, trans, non-binary, and women writers, Goodie House Poetry & Stories is a reading series that takes place the fourth Thursday of each month February through October at Wildfruit Projects Gallery & Garden in Dutchtown, St. Louis.

Laumeier Sculpture Park, “American Vernacular: Hugh Hayden”

Laumeier Sculpture Park is proud to announce American Vernacular, Hugh Hayden’s first museum survey exploring a decade of his work in a variety of mediums including newly commissioned works. The exhibition will be on view Feb. 10 through May 12, 2024, in the Aronson Fine Arts Center’s Whitaker Foundation Gallery and in the Outdoor Galleries, near The Way Field.