St. Louis Arts – Come See What You’re Missing
St. Louis is home to more than 30 performing arts theaters, 40 music venues, and 50 art galleries and museums. It’s a place where the unordinary IS ordinary, where you can experience creativity up close around every corner. Check out a world premiere on stage before it hits Broadway in New York. Kick back, enjoy a drink, and listen to world-renowned jazz and blues artists at a local club. Find a festival that sparks your curiosity. It’s all in St. Louis.
The new StLouisArts.org website is your hub for all things art. St. Louis is often known for its love of sports, but it’s the arts that give it soul. Each neighborhood has a completely different feel and personality, giving tourists the opportunity to experience the old and the new.
The website launch coincides with a major marketing campaign, a first for the Regional Arts Commission (RAC). Our nonprofit organization will target regional markets like Kansas City and Chicago, as well as places like Springfield, Peoria, and Columbia. What we are really excited about – targeting art-minded cities with large young professional populations like Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, as our first test markets.
Why Care About What’s Happening With the Arts in St. Louis?
I’d be happy to tell you! The arts mean business in St. Louis. The arts and culture sector provides more than 19,000 full-time jobs and contributes $600 million in economic activity in the region. It brings more than 12 million tourists to the area each year.
These statistics don’t even include the outlying counties. When you support the arts, you are supporting St. Louis and the good folks who live in its suburbs. When corporations are looking to relocate or are recruiting high-level employees, one of the first things they look at is the local arts and culture scene. No one wants to move to a place where there is nothing to do. The arts provide an escape from the stress of everyday life. They give us joy. They give us hope.
The next time you go to a concert, look around you. Is anyone yelling about politics? Are they complaining about their job? Or is anyone moaning about their to-do list at home? No – they are jamming to the music. It is a shared experience that cares little about who you are, where you are from, what you believe, so on and so forth. The arts make it happen.
The Free Stuff in Forest Park May Bring You to STL – But There’s More!
Who doesn’t love free? As a parent of two children (who drain most of my bank account), I love free! The St. Louis Art Museum and St. Louis History Museum are world-renowned institutions. As a lover of animals, my family frequents the zoo.
There is so much more to explore. So, let’s dive into some things you might not know about.
Theaters and Theater Groups I Love
Because I have children, finding live performances that don’t have anything to do with Paw Patrol or Elmo is very important to my sanity. Good thing Metro Theater Company calls St. Louis home. With productions like Go, Dog. Go! and The Hungry Little Caterpillar, it’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening with your young'un. These folks are professionals, and they take their productions seriously. You’ll leave wondering why you haven’t been coming to their shows for years.
Looking for something that is very much NOT kid friendly? Look no further than New Line Cinema. The self-proclaimed “Bad Boy of Musical Theatre” is provocative, hilarious, and often inappropriate (but in a good way). My wife and I saw Bukowsical, based on American poet, novelist, and short story writer David Bukowski. I knew nothing about the artist or the show before walking in the doors. I got a drink, sat down, and laughed for two hours straight.
Music Venues I Love
Honestly, there are too many to name. Yes, I love a big concert at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater. Mid-sized concerts at the St. Louis Music Park or The Pageant are good, too. What really goes unnoticed? The smaller venues. Grab some oysters or crawfish enchiladas and listen to local talent at Broadway Oyster Bar. Engulf yourself in some history at the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill. Don’t miss world-famous musicians who by Jazz St. Louis every month.
Galleries and Museums I Love
A lot of people don’t know the National Blues Museum is located in St. Louis. Of course, it makes sense. Blues music traveled through the Mississippi Delta during the 20th century and made its way to St. Louis. Once here, the genre took a form of its own. It’s a beautiful, interactive museum, and they have live performances every week.
If you are looking for something more modern, head on down to the Contemporary Art Museum and Pulitzer Arts Foundation – conveniently right next to each other! The buildings themselves are unique, but the inside is something quite unique. Always free to get in, you can discover the up-and-coming artists making waves in the industry. See their work and meet the artists before they are famous. Stay for a drink and enjoy the patio once you’re done browsing.
The first time I walked into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, I was taken aback. They had a photography exhibit about homeless veterans, and it was so impactful. Some of the most powerful photographs in the world end up in this museum.
Festivals I Love
This list of festivals could go on and on and on. St. Louis is home to some really amazing festivals. If you are a fan of Jason Isbell, Blackberry Smoke or folk/Americana music in general, stop by the Open Highway Music Festival. Held at the Chesterfield Amphitheater June 16-17, this family-friendly festival will also feature local musicians and artists. Kids under 12 are free!
Speaking of free, you can attend the Soulard Blues, Brews and Bites Festival on May 21. The name says it all – enjoy great music, tasty beers, and local food in the heart of Soulard.
Go ahead and mark your calendars for Nov. 9-11 for the Flyover Comedy Festival. A lot of people don’t think of comedians as artists but think about it. They write. They perform on a stage. Some even play music. This festival has featured Sarah Silverman, Doug Benson, Todd Barry, Ron Funches, and other national acts. More importantly, they showcase local talent who will make you laugh until you cry.
Other Stuff I Love
Public art is some of my favorite art. It’s free and accessible to everyone. It helps beautify our neighborhoods and brings people together. The St. Louis Mural Mile is quite famous around the country, but it’s possible you’ve never heard of it. Before I started working at the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, I had no idea what it is. Every Labor Day weekend, Paint Louis brings more than 250 graffiti artists from around the country to St. Louis to add to this mural on the Mississippi River floodwall.
Do you love crafting? Are you a fan of sustainable? You need to visit Perennial. No, it’s not the brewery (though I love that, too). You can learn how to make a hexagon floating shelf, design and build your own outdoor furniture, or learn how to use a power saw. Every month they hold a Craft Club Happy Hour, allowing participants to create something cool and enjoy a cool drink. My favorite fun fact: By reducing waste and crafting with salvaged materials at Perennial, the community diverts more than 10,000 pounds of waste from the landfill each year.
Because You Have to Eat
Lousies on the Loop (567a Melville Ave, University City). Remember Maid-Rite sandwiches? Well, they take it up a notch. Chef Daniel Boyer fuses his Missouri upbringing with New Orleans flair. Try the sloppy joe version or stop by on Friday for their weekly seafood special.
Jalea Peruvian Bistro (323 N Main, St. Charles). It’s not going to be a cheap night, but you’ll walk away talking about the flavors you just had for a while. The service is incredible. The food is even better.
Brew Tulum Specialty Coffee Experience (5090 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis). The best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Get the Café De Olla. Then, be sure to order a very delicious breakfast.
If you feel out of the loop, be sure to follow these accounts on social media for more about what’s happening in St. Louis:
Jay Scherder works for the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis but calls St. Charles home. When he’s not working, he’s searching for a good patio to have a beer, caring for his garden, taking adventures with his family, or spending time outside.