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St. Louis-Area Arts Entrepreneurs Compete For $20,000 In stARTup Competition

Creative Reaction Lab was one of the first winners of the stARTup Creative Competition 2/17/19
Arts and Education Council
Creative Reaction Lab was one of the first winners of the stARTup Creative Competition

Calling all arts entrepreneurs in the St. Louis region: the third-annual stARTup Creative Competition is underway. A $20,000 prize is at stake.

The Arts and Education Council devised the contest to give a boost to new ventures.

Either one winner will receive $20,000, or two will split it. The prize also includes work space in Arts and Education Council’s arts incubator at the Centene Center for the Arts in Grand Center, including internet access and other logistical support.

The contest aims to identify and support organizations filling a hole in the local arts economy.

“If it is something the community needs, if they’ve got the entrepreneurial chops to think differently about stuff, if its innovative,” judging committee member Matt Homann said of the qualities he’s looking for.

Homann is founder of St. Louis-based company Filament, which offers creatively designed meeting space and conference space as a hipper alternative to hotel ballrooms.

“But we also really want them to make certain they’re meeting a real need in the arts community,” he said. “It’s not just funding the same-old, same-old. It’s easy to keep giving the same money to the same organizations.”

Last year’s winners were Shayba Muhammad’s The Makers Program, which offers guidance to artists of color who are setting up small businesses, and the Who Raised You? Listening Collective, a group led by Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen (Jia Lian) Yang that records and documents oral histories.

The award can be a boost to a young organization, according to Antionette D. Carroll, whose Creative Reaction Lab was one of the first winners.

“We were starting to get traction nationally about our work, however the work we were doing locally was not receiving much recognition or support,” Carroll said.

“What was fantastic [about winning the competition] was they really saw value in what we were doing,” Carroll said, “and trying to create a creative and design-centric ecosystem that wasn’t just around visual arts, but using the practice of design and creative problem-solving to address issues of concern — in our case, racial inequities.”

Submissions to this year’s competition are due March 1.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the constituency served by The Makers Program. It is open to all artists of color who are interested in starting small businesses. 

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @jeremydgoodwin.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.