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Recapping the 2017 St. Louis ‘arts-world’: Stories of arts education, politics and St. Louis icons

St. Louis Public Radio's arts and culture reporters Willis Ryder Arnold and Nancy Fowler talk about their most memorable reports of 2017.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Radio's arts and culture reporters Willis Ryder Arnold (left) and Nancy Fowler (right) talk about their most memorable reports of 2017.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we did a year-in-review of the top arts and culture stories of 2017. Joining host Don Marsh for the discussion were St. Louis Public Radio reporters Nancy Fowler and Willis Ryder Arnold.

“It’s been a really exciting time to be covering St. Louis arts in the last couple of years,” Arnold said.

Fowler said the stories she found meaningful were in the realm of art and education, especially at a time when arts-education funding is in jeopardy.

She mentioned the story of Riverview Gardens teacher Harvey Lockhart being named art educator of the year. Lockhart is credited with increasing student enrollment in music classes and puts the well-being of his students first.

“He’s really done a lot with little, as artists and arts educators often do,” Fowler said.

Arnold highlighted the amount of local art made tied to politics and social justice. He said there was also a lot of attention toward the “St. Louis art-world” coming from outside the city.

Fowler agreed and said the arts have always been in the forefront regarding social issues.

 “I think people who might not be affected by or are not part of a marginalized community began to see and understand more and therefore be interested in these issues and be interested in the ways artists are looking into those things,” she said.

Arnold mentioned the “Whose Streets” documentary made by local artist and filmmaker Damon Davis and filmmaker Sabaah Folayan.

“It’s a documentary that was made ostensibly from the perspective of protesters and was specifically designed for people who were thinking about the protests and the movement for black lives that we’re seeing still be an issue in the city,” he said.

2017 also saw some losses of influential St. Louis icons, including musician Chuck Barry, comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory and Agnes Wilcox, founder and longtime artistic director of Prison Performing Arts, an organization that brings theater to prison inmates.

Fowler’s other memorable stories:

Arnold’s other memorable stories:

Listen to their discussion and analysis here:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.
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