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The Luminary Receives First National Funding; Eight Others Also Get NEA Grants

James and Brea McAnally in the work in progress at the new Luminary Center for the Arts.
Nora Ibrahim | St. Louis Public Radio Intern

This fall the National Endowment for the Arts awarded nine St. Louis-based arts organizations a total of $250,000 in grants. But in the visual arts category, only The Luminary Arts Center on Cherokee Street got funding. Thanks to the new NEA grant the space will expand its international artist residency program. Brea McAnally runs the space with her husband, James. They say the award is a national spotlight for the space.

“Primarily we’re just grateful that the organization has been seen and validated on a national level,” said Brea McAnally.

The $20,000 NEA grant is the first national funding The Luminary has received. The center’s residency program has already hosted artists from places like Italy and England. The McAnallys expect to bring 15-20 artists through the program in the coming year. If The Luminary’s grants and contributions remain the same as 2013, the NEA grant will make up one-sixth of the venue’s revenue. James said the program is designed to bring artists and curators to St. Louis for the express purpose of working in the St. Louis arts community.

“I think it’s tangibly attempting to create this point of exchange and make sure that artists here are working in an international context,” he said.

The international component of the residency program began in 2013 and was developed to combat the perception that St. Louis is an isolated creative hub. The vision is to ensure St. Louis artists and curators have access to experience the international arts scene in a personal way while showing international artists the possibilities available in St. Louis. According to the McAnallys, a number of artists return to the city after their stay at the Luminary.

Alika Cooper was a resident this past January and has returned. Cooper intends to remain in the city through February. Cooper’s return is exemplary of The Luminary residency program’s underlying goal: share the greatness of St. Louis.

“It shows people that keep coming in how interesting St. Louis’ community is,” said James McAnally.

Other St. Louis National Endowment for the Arts grant winners include: 

Center of Creative Arts

Cinema St. Louis
Dance Saint Louis
Metro Theater Company
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Opojaz, Inc. - for Boulevard Magazine

St. Louis Children's Choirs
St. Louis Classical Guitar Society
Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra

That Uppity Theatre Company