Grant Supports A&E’s Monsanto Fund Rural Community Arts Education Program

The Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis (A&E) announced today receipt of a $25,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund to support arts programs in our region’s rural communities.

Established in 2007, the Monsanto Fund Rural Community Arts Education Program brings artists and entertainers into classrooms and performance venues so people and families living in counties surrounding the St. Louis metropolitan area have greater access to performing, visual and literary arts.

“Because of the Monsanto Fund’s generous support, A&E can provide direct support to arts and arts education organizations whose programs reach rural communities across the 16-county, bi-state area,” said Cynthia A. Prost, Arts and Education Council president & CEO.

“We know that access to the arts improves our health and well-being, advances academic achievement, and drives economic prosperity. The Monsanto Fund Rural Community Arts Education Program helps us bring life-enriching arts experiences and opportunities to children, teens and adults in traditionally underserved communities.”

“Through A&E’s vision and expertise, this program helps ensure that rural communities in the region have access to the arts, which not only benefits area students but also their families,” said Michelle Insco, Monsanto Fund program officer. “The Monsanto Fund is committed to enriching lives in communities where farmers and Monsanto employees live and work, and with over 4,000 local employees and numerous farming communities in the St. Louis region, the Rural Community Arts Education Program is one we’ve been proud to support over the years.”

In addition to supporting the Rural Community Arts Education Program through the Monsanto Fund grant, Monsanto Company is now sponsoring the Art Educator of the Year Award at A&E’s annual St. Louis Arts Awards on January 23, 2017. The Monsanto Fund had previously sponsored the Art Educator of the Year Award since 2010 and has sponsored the St. Louis Arts Awards for more than 20 years. The 2017 Monsanto Art Educator of the Year Award will be given to Harvey Lockhart of the Riverview Gardens School District.

Lockhart has been an arts educator for over a decade and is currently the band director at Riverview Gardens High School and the performing arts coordinator for the Riverview Gardens School District. Since 2010, Lockhart has rebuilt the District’s music program into one of the best in North St. Louis. Lockhart revitalized the band program from 10 students to 60; re-established concert, marching and jazz bands; and built an inventory of more than 80 new and used instruments. In 2015, with the help of jazz pianist Peter Martin and The Sheldon Arts Foundation, Lockhart formed the North County Big Band (NCBB) – a community jazz big band for North County students and other underserved districts to serve and support talented high school musicians after the tragic events in Ferguson. This collaborative big band is made up of students from several St. Louis area high schools, including Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, Hazelwood Central High School, Normandy High School, Riverview Gardens High School and University City High School. Through Lockhart’s leadership, teaching ability and hard work, the North County Big Band has quickly become a positive factor in the lives of the students and community. V

Via Press Release

Arts and Education Council: When the Arts Thrive, Our City Thrives! – The Arts and Education Council (A&E), is the St. Louis region’s United Arts Fund providing financial, professional development and incubation support for arts organizations. A&E’s mission is to build appreciation, participation and support for arts and arts education throughout the St. Louis community. A&E is the only privately funded arts umbrella organization that serves the 16-county, bi-state St. Louis region. Since its inception in 1963, the Arts and Education Council has raised and distributed more than $100 million in private funding for the arts – a significant contribution that directly impacts the quality of life in our region. With funds raised, the Arts and Education Council annually assists approximately 70 nonprofit arts and arts education organizations. Additionally, the Arts and Education Council provides office, rehearsal and performance space for 19 nonprofit arts organizations in the Centene Center for Arts, a unique arts incubator located in the Grand Center Arts District. A&E meets all 20 Better Business Bureau Charity Standards and has earned the Wise Giving Seal of Approval, a three-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Guidestar Exchange Silver Participant rating.