St. Louis area organizations ask city, county officials for portion of pandemic relief funds

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – It’s a world-class city in St. Louis, home to some of the finest fine art and cultural organizations around. But the pandemic has made a significant impact on the finances of these vaulted institutions. 

Now, they’ve joined together to ask for help. 

In a first of its kind move, 111 organizations from Sheldon, COCA, and the Contemporary Art Museum, sent letters to St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page asking for 5% of the American Rescue Plan Act funds slated for the city and county. 

“The last year we’ve got good numbers from is 2016 that says the economic impact of $600 million impact which is bigger than all of the sports combined,” said Peter Palermos, executive director of the Sheldon Arts Foundation.  

“Arts and culture drive that much revenue and business.” 

Lisa Melandri, executive director of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis said, “We are estimating somewhere between $15 and $25 million that has been lost to the sector during the pandemic and that’s really during a couple of calendar fiscal years.”

“We’re talking 2020 and 2021 and the other part to this is the urgency behind it.” 

Both offices for Mayor Tishaura Jones and Sam Page have received the letters and are taking them under consideration, and will be reaching out to members of the board of alderman and county council to see what steps can be taken to respond to the request. 

The groups are asking the funds to be sent to the Regional Arts Commission who would then distribute to the 111 organizations. 

“The regional arts commission works across the city and county and gathers those hotel tax dollars together and then has a very equitable process they go through to distribute those dollars and we’re all of these groups familiar the process,” Palermo said.  

“It’s a totally transparent organization and easy way for the elected officials to get money quickly, quickly. Which is key.” 

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