When budget cuts in 1995 threatened arts programs in St. Louis Park’s public schools, a group of residents came together to advocate for the programs and the value of arts education for youth. Building on the energy and recognizing the shared desire for St. Louis Park to be a strong arts community, the group incorporated as a nonprofit, and St. Louis Park Friends of the Arts was born.
Executive director Jamie Marshall says, “We provide the St. Louis Park community with a dedicated resource, partner and collaborator for all things arts and culture. Our website, Facebook and monthly e-newsletter help spread information about the [arts].”
The organization also provides scholarships to residents to participate in arts activities, free musical instruments to St. Louis Park students through the Gift of Music program, Arts and Culture grants in partnership with the City of St. Louis Park and the St. Louis Park Community and Youth Development Fund, and other support and opportunities for artists and residents, says Marshall.
“The arts help to invigorate the local economy, attract tourists, bridge cultural differences, improve public safety, and strengthen community identity and collective voice,” Marshall says. “But most importantly, the arts help us to connect with ourselves, our environment and each other.”
“We believe creativity is inherent in all people, is an essential part of community, should be collaborative, inclusive, affordable, and accessible and will help us connect across differences in culture and life experience,” Marshall says.
Other projects Friends of the Arts has in the works are open mic poetry readings, a panel discussion with local artists called Creativity in Community in partnership with St. Louis Park Community Education, the St. Louis Park Unity Sing and an art exhibit for local visual artists.
“As our community experiences growth and change, we hope that Friends of the Arts will be a way for people to stay connected to their local community, their neighbors and themselves,” Marshall says.
To get involved and to learn more about Friends of the Arts, visit slpfota.org.