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Regional Arts Commission picks Felicia Shaw as new leader

Felicia Shaw
Provided by the Regional Arts Commission

The Regional Arts Commission has announced its new executive director, after a 10-month search.

RAC announced on Tuesday that Felicia Shaw will replace retiring RAC founder Jill McGuire. Shaw is a native St. Louisan who’s returning home after a long career, much of it spent on the West Coast.

Shaw has worked in the arts for 25 years. She was program manager for the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, and then director of arts and creative economy for a community organization in the same city. 

In a news release, Shaw said she's honored to have been chosen.

“St. Louis is moving in a great direction, and it is an exciting time to come back home and be a part of this region’s bright future," Shaw said.

McGuire has been at the helm of the arts organization for 30 years.

Jill McGuire
Credit Regional Arts Commission
Jill McGuire

McGuire launched the Regional Arts Commission in 1985 with the goal of supporting and funding the arts in the St. Louis area.

Since then, RAC has awarded $65 million to local artists and arts institution. During the past two years, RAC has increased its giving to individual artists and small organizations.

In 2013 and 2014, 10 different artist fellows each received $20,000. This year, more than a dozen others won up to $2,500 in social impact grants for specific projects.

McGuire announced her retirement last May. In September, RAC publicized that it had contracted with Arts Consulting Group to conduct a national search for McGuire's successor. RAC chairman Michael Scully and commissioner and past chair Donna Wilkinson co-chaired the search committee for candidates to lead the organization, located at 6128 Delmar Blvd., in University City.

Both McGuire and Scully praised Shaw's selection.

“Felicia is a seasoned professional and will be a great asset both to the St. Louis cultural community and to RAC,” McGuire said.

Michael Scully
Credit Regional Arts Commission
Michael Scully

“After a diligent process of reviewing many qualified candidates, we are proud to have selected the best successor to lead this great organization,” Scully said. “I am confident in the vision Felicia will bring to RAC and to St. Louis.”

Shaw is scheduled to begin her term May 11. Find out more about her in this Voice of San Diego articlein which she talks about, among other things, getting her then-husband, a football-player, to perform ballet.

Follow Nancy Fowler on  Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.