Arts and Education Council

More Than 50 Years of Arts Fundraising

In its more than 50-year history, the Arts and Education Council has raised over $100 million in support of arts and arts education organizations.  Download a copy of Persuade and Provide here.



The Arts and Education Council was founded in 1963 when a few arts patrons took responsibility for the future of cultural activity in the St. Louis metropolitan area. This was the year that the United Way focused its mission on funding health and human services organizations, leaving nine arts organizations without funding. Two of those organizations - Springboard (formerly Young Audiences of St. Louis) and the Community Music School of Webster University (formerly CASA) - are receiving funding today. 

Morton D. May, Margie May, J. W. McAfee, Evelyn Newman, Kenton R. Cravens, Adelaide (Jabber) Cherbonnier, Adelaide Schlafly, Edgar Monsanto Queeny and scores of others moved the concept forward. They called this effort the Spirit of St. Louis Fund.

On February 8, 1963, four members of the original Board of Directors - Malcolm W. Martin, Robert Brookings Smith, Howard F. Baer and Clarence M. Turley - signed the Articles of Incorporation and the Arts and Education Council was born. Robert Brookings Smith became the first Chairman of the Board.

In 1968, the Arts and Education Council presented the first CAMELOT auction an acronym for Cultural Auction of Many Extraordinary Lots of Treasure. This event changed the face of charity benefits in St. Louis. Other major fundraisers have included the Arts Festival for Children and the St. Louis Arts Festival.

In 1992, the first St. Louis Arts Awards was created by then President of the Arts and Education Council, Pat Rich. The St. Louis Arts Awards showcases the breadth, depth and diversity of the arts throughout our region.

In 2012, the Arts and Education Council announced another major milestone in its history – the purchase of its first home at the Centene Center for Arts and Education.  Located in the Grand Center Arts District, the beautiful Gothic-style white glazed terra cotta façade building at 3547 Olive Street is home to 17 arts and arts education organizations.  The first of its kind in the St. Louis region, the Centene Center for Arts and Education is an arts incubator that offers below-market rent, shared rehearsal, event and meeting spaces as well as technological infrastructure to all of its tenants.


Accredited Charity by the Better Business BureauThe Better Business Bureau awarded The Arts and Education Council the Wise Giving Seal of Approval. The Seal assures our donors that the Council will maintain high standards in the areas of fiscal responsibility, fund raising and governance so together we can and will keep art happening!

Help keep art happening for 50 more years, donate now!