The Arts and Education Council (A&E) proudly announces seven honorees for the 2018 St. Louis Arts Awards. Celebrating its 27th year, the St. Louis Arts Awards is the area’s preeminent event honoring individuals, organizations and businesses that achieve a legacy of artistic excellence and enrich St. Louis’ arts and cultural community.

Those being honored in 2018 are: Johnetta Haley, music educator, Lifetime Achievement in the Arts; Dennis M. Reagan, The Muny, Lifetime Achievement in the Arts; Gene Dobbs Bradford, Jazz St. Louis, Excellence in the Arts; Keith Tyrone Williams, Grand Center Arts Academy, Art Educator of the Year; Saint Louis Fashion Fund, Arts Startup of the Year; Art on the Square, Arts Collaboration; and World Wide Technology, Inc., Corporate Support of the Arts.

”The Arts and Education Council is proud to celebrate this exceptional and diverse group of individuals, organizations and corporate citizens from across the bi-state region,” says Cynthia Prost, A&E president and CEO. “It is their passion and commitment to the arts that continue to make St. Louis a thriving community for us all to live, learn, work and play.”

The 2018 St. Louis Arts Awards will be held Monday, January 22 at the Chase Park Plaza beginning with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and awards at 7 p.m. Susan Block, founder of the Designing Block, and John Russell, Senior Vice President at Stifel Financial Corporation, return as co-chairs of this year’s event. Proceeds from the event benefit the Arts and Education Council’s annual campaign which provides financial support, professional development, incubator space and collaborative opportunities for nearly 70 arts and arts education organizations throughout the 16-county, bi-state region.

About the Honorees

Lifetime Achievement in the Arts – Johnetta Haley, music educator. 

An Alton native, Johnetta Randolph Haley is a fourth generation music educator who has dedicated her life and career to music education and community development in the bi-state region. After earning her bachelor’s in music education from Lincoln University in 1945, Haley taught music at East St. Louis Lincoln High School. In 1954, she was one of three African American teachers hired by Nipher Junior High School in Kirkwood following the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling. She taught music and choir at Nipher for nearly two decades before joining the faculty at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) in 1972, the same year she earned her master’s in music from SIUE. Haley became acting director of the SIUE East St. Louis Center in 1982 and director in 1984. She remained there until her retirement in 1994. Over the course of the last 70 years, Haley has been recognized with a variety of honors and accomplishments including the St. Louis Women of Achievement Award; Missouri Music Educators Service to Music Award; and Key to the City from Gary, Ind. Haley has served the bi-state region through her involvement on a number of boards, including Lincoln University Board of Curators (board president 1977-1987); St. Louis Metropolitan Board of the YWCA; and Artist Presentation Society.

Lifetime Achievement in the Arts – Dennis M. Reagan, The Muny. 

Dennis M. “Denny” Reagan is president and CEO of The Muny. 2018 will mark Reagan’s 50th year with The Muny and coincide with the outdoor theatre’s 100th summer season. Before being named president of The Muny in 1991, he advanced through the ranks of the “oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre in America” beginning as a member of the clean-up team as a teenager and then as wardrobe dresser, stage crew, runner, courier, office clerk, office manager, manager of theatre operations and assistant general manager. In addition to his work for The Muny, Reagan has been actively involved with a number of local and national arts, civic and academic institutions, including the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (board of directors, past president), The Broadway League, the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the Central Institute for the Deaf, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. A St. Louis native, Reagan graduated from Bishop DuBourg High School in 1970 and earned his bachelor’s in business administration from University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1974.

Excellence in the Arts – Gene Dobbs Bradford, Jazz St. Louis. 

Gene Dobbs Bradford is executive director of Jazz St. Louis, a position he has held since 1999. During that time he has built the organization’s contributed and earned income from $375,000 to $2.8 million today, as well as led the organization through a $10 million capital campaign. Under his leadership, Jazz St. Louis has grown into a world-class, world-renowned jazz institution named one of the ten great jazz clubs in the country by Wynton Marsalis in USA Today. Their programming includes mainstage performances as well as expansive education and outreach programming throughout the city. Bradford has received many honors, including the St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” “Most Influential People in St. Louis,” “Non-profit Executive of the Year,” and “Inclusive Leadership” awards. In addition to Jazz St. Louis, Bradford directs the arts management and leadership department at Webster University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in double bass performance from the Eastman School of Music and an MBA from Washington University. From 1994-99, he was director of operations for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. 2018 will mark Bradford’s twentieth season at the helm of Jazz St. Louis, which received the Excellence in the Arts Award at the 2006 St. Louis Arts Awards.

Art Educator of the Year – Keith Tyrone Williams, Grand Center Arts Academy. 

Keith Tyrone Williams is chair of musical theatre at the Grand Center Arts Academy, a St. Louis public charter middle and high school founded in 2010 and located in the heart of St. Louis’s vibrant cultural arts district. Williams has performed, directed, and choreographed throughout the United States and Europe. He is artistic director of the Innervision Dance Theatre, which last month premiered the inspirational work, “The Ties That Bind”, which aimed to bridge generational divides through black history. Some may remember him as “Horse” in The Full Monty at STAGES St. Louis for which he won the prestigious Kevin Kline Award. His choreographic work of “Sarafina”, a musical about South African apartheid, received rave reviews and garnered him another Kevin Kline Award for best choreography. He also appeared in “Damn Yankees” (Applegate) for which he won the Woodie King Jr. Award for best actor, was the recipient of the Katherine Dunham Award and the NAACP Cultural Arts Award. Williams has appeared in many national, international, and Broadway productions and is among the few people certified by Katherine Dunham to teach the world renowned Dunham Technique. He served as co-writer and appeared in the historic documentary on Dunham Technique with the Library of Congress and performed in the Dunham Gala performance at Carnegie Hall. A native of East St. Louis, he holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre/dance (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), a master’s degree in theatre/directing (Lindenwood University) and is completing his master’s of fine arts in directing.

Arts Startup of the Year – Saint Louis Fashion Fund. 

The Saint Louis Fashion Fund (SLFF), founded in May 2014, aims to support emerging designers, stimulate local interest in the fashion industry and build awareness of global fashion trends, inspired by a time in the early 20th century when St. Louis was second only to New York in fashion production. SLFF’s Saint Louis Fashion Incubator (SLFI) is a two-year intensive program offering emerging designers, selected through a national search, tools, guidance and resources in business, fashion, merchandising, and retail. Each designer has a studio in the SLFI, which launched in January 2017 through partnerships with Washington University’s Olin Business School and the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. In addition to their work with faculty at Washington University, the designers collaborate with one another, with local fashion-oriented businesses such as Caleres and with fashion industry leaders on SLFF’s National Advisory Committee. The public is invited to participate in pop-up sales by local and national designers, lectures and workshops. In addition, the designers serve as fashion ambassadors in the community, mentoring high school and college students and other aspiring designers.

Arts Collaboration – Art on the Square. 

Founded in 2002, Art on the Square (AOTS) in Belleville, Ill. is consistently ranked #1 in the nation by the nationally renowned Art Fair Source Book. The annual event involves the cooperation and participation of hundreds of artists and volunteers, the city of Belleville, local merchants and vendors, corporate sponsors and local and regional musical talent. Over 1,000 artists submit work to be juried for the annual art fair; only 100 are chosen to exhibit annually. In its 15 years, Art on the Square has grown beyond just the annual fair in May in downtown Belleville. Through collaborations with schools and municipal partners, education and outreach programs such as the Artist in Residency program, Sculpture in the City Program, High School Sculpture in the City Program and High School art exhibit, AOTS’s mission has broader impact in the community and region.

Corporate Support of the Arts – World Wide Technology, Inc. 

World Wide Technology, Inc., co-founded by Dave Steward and Jim Kavanagh in 1990, serves as an exemplary corporate citizen. World Wide Technology, Inc. is as a major supporter for a broad and diverse group of St. Louis’s arts and culture institutions, programs and events, including: Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Center of Creative Arts (COCA), Jazz St. Louis, St. Louis Symphony, the Arts and Education Council, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Muny, The Black Rep, The Sheldon Arts Foundation, Nine Network of Public Media, among several others. By supporting such diverse arts activities, World Wide Technology, Inc. ensures St. Louis continues to thrive as a creative, artistic community that attracts and retains a talented workforce. Tickets for the 2018 St. Louis Arts Awards go on sale this fall.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Scott Giffen, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, at or 314-289-4009 for more information. Visit to learn more about current and past St. Louis Arts Awards honorees. V

Via Press Release