The Arts and Education Council (A&E) announced today that applications are now open for the second annual stARTup Competition for arts entrepreneurs. The competition and program is supported by A&E and the PNC Foundation to foster breakthrough, entrepreneurial ideas on changing the fabric of St. Louis through the arts. The stARTup Competition is one of only two of its kind in the country, along with MIT’s Creative Arts Competition. A&E and the PNC Foundation have earmarked $20,000 for the competition.

The stARTup Competition is designed to provide the resources and opportunities arts entrepreneurs need to explore new ways of positively changing the St. Louis community through the arts. Competition winners receive resources needed to accelerate their ideas, including: seed funding; mentorship from entrepreneurial and arts management experts; administrative facilities and infrastructure in A&E’s Centene Center for the Arts; and professional development and networking opportunities.

“The Arts and Education Council has been thrilled with the results of the first year of the competition,” said Cynthia A. Prost, A&E president and CEO. “The inaugural winners, Creative Reaction Lab and FLOW, have brought a fresh energy to the arts community with their remarkable work this year. We look forward to seeing what ideas will be sparked by the 2018 cohort.”

Last year’s competition generated more than 30 applications from across the region. One of the winners, Creative Reaction Lab, founded in 2014 by equity designer Antionette Carroll, is a nonprofit dedicated to training the next generation of Black and Latinx students in designing better, more equitable communities. Carroll was recently among 20 global leaders named a 2018 TED Fellow. Another winner, FLOW, is the brainchild of local poet Amanda Wells, who aims to create a central haven for the region’s writers.

“Our goal with the stARTup competition is to support innovation and foster inclusive relationships between PNC and the local startup community,” said Michael Scully, PNC regional president for St. Louis. “We believe the perspectives of arts entrepreneurs combined with the assets of an incumbent bank can be a very powerful match. These entrepreneurs will become a catalyst for future economic growth.”

Submissions for the 2018 competition are due March 15. Individuals in the 16-county bi-state region and organizations that have been in existence for two years or less are welcome to apply.

Panelists for the stARTup Competition include a diverse group of seasoned entrepreneurs and community development experts, including: Sheila Burkett, Spry Digital; Antionette Carroll, Creative Reaction Lab; Chris Dornfeld, Maritz Motivation Solutions; Jason Hall, Arch to Park Collaborative; Matt Homann, Filament; Debbie Marshall, PNC; Susan Stith, Express Scripts, Inc.; and Amanda Wells, FLOW. Applications are due March 15. Finalists will pitch their ideas to the panel in April and winners will be announced in early June. For criteria and application information, click here.