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$250,000 support St. Louis arts programs that cross genres and reach out internationally

Grant awardees and PNC employees gather at the Public Media Commons.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio
Grant awardees and PNC employees gather for awards event at the Public Media Commons.

Gene Dobbs Bradford, executive director for Jazz St. Louis, stands in the Public Media Commons in Grand Center as the PNC Arts Alive grants are about to be awarded. He’s enjoying a chilly, sun-dappled morning and the chance to discuss the Jazz St. Louis programing related to jazz and baseball funded by this grant.  

“This is our attempt to help people in the community draw connections to jazz in other parts of their lives,” said Dobbs Bradford.

Jazz St. Louis is one of 11 local arts organizations that each received upwards of $20,000.

PNC awarded a total of $250,000 to organizations the awards committee characterizes as innovated and engaged with the community. Jazz St. Louis typifies most of the grant recipients. They’re established organizations trying to develop innovative programing.

“We really pushed arts organizations to be creative and innovative because we wanted them to look at new ways of doing things,” said Debbie Marshall, vice president and director of client and community relations for PNC in St. Louis. “It goes back to if you do the same things you’ve always done, you’re going to get the same results.”

This summer, Jazz St. Louis will tackle an often unexplored combination: jazz and baseball. It will highlight the relationship between big bands and early baseball through performances, a game staged according to original rules, and a discussion of Negro League Baseball. According to Dobbs Bradford, early touring teams sometimes traveled with their own musicians.

John Nagel greets photography members of the Nanjing Federation for the Arts
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold l St. Louis Public Radio
John Nagel greets photography members of the Nanjing Federation for the Arts

The PNC Arts Alive grants also go to The International Photography Hall of Fame. The Hall’s executive director, John Nagel, said the funding contributed to the organization’s exchange program with photographers from the Nanjing Federation for the Arts in China. 

“We believe that photography is a language without words, that it’s an ability to reach out to persons around the world,” he said.

The money contributes to travel, food and lodging for the visiting photographers, who attended the awards event. Nagel said the program would not be possible without the grant.

“We’re using the sister-city template as beginning point for our outreach globally,” said Nagel. 

According to Marshall of PNC, this type of far-reaching project means their funding is being put to good use. The grant application process opens again October, 2015.

A full list of funded organizations:

  • The Muny - $35,000
  • Dance St. Louis - $25,000
  • International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum - $25,000
  • Opera Theatre St. Louis - $25,000
  • The Sheldon Arts Foundation - $20,000
  • The Big Muddy Dance Company - $20,000
  • Circus Flora - $20,000
  • Saint Louis Ballet - $20,000
  • Shakespeare Festival St. Louis - $20,000
  • Metro Theater Company - $20,000
  • Jazz St. Louis -$20,000