Jul 28, 2014

Chesterfield Arts

Since 1995, Chesterfield Arts has provided quality and diverse programming in the visual, performing and literary arts.  They’ve promoted public art and arts education, acting as a presenter of quality local, regional and national artists, as a catalyst for arts activity and as resource for arts information in Chesterfield, West County and the entire St. Louis region. 


Over the past several months, the organization has been faced with some major challenges.  In addition to a significant decrease in their donor base and the loss of a major funder, last fall they were notified that their building, home for ten years, would be torn down this summer and replaced with a field of soybeans.


Stacey Morse, Director of Chesterfield Arts, and her staff immediately worked to locate and design a new space which could fully accommodate their year-round classes and programming.  Disturbingly, in spite of the positive work and notoriety the organization has helped to achieve on behalf of the city of Chesterfield, attempts to gain assistance from them were refused.  Due to lack of funds, a facility that could handle the full scope of programming was not realized.


Multiple efforts and some seemingly shady last-minute changes to lease agreements forced CA scrambling to secure a temporary space in which to conduct classes through this summer with staff working from home.


But after exhausting a variety of possible solutions for a new facility, the board has now made the decision to cease operations at the end of next month, relieving all staff of their positions.  It appears that the organization will only remain as an owner and steward of the more than $2 million in sculpture that has been donated to Chesterfield Arts over the years.  Classes, community engagement projects, performances, literary competitions, community events, public art projects and programs for children and adults with special needs will no longer be provided as a service to the public.


Chesterfield Arts was voted “Arts Pioneer”, a people’s and editor’s choice award by St. Louis Magazine, the sculpture program was mentioned in the national publication Public Art Review, a major hospital contacted CA to develop a program for families going through cancer treatment, and a local developer contacted them to create a sculpture for their new development in the valley.  And that was just last week.   For twenty years, Chesterfield Arts has benefited the City of Chesterfield and the children, families, schools and businesses of the region.  Stacey has worked with the community and many founding board members since 1996 to build what has become one of the most notable organizations in the St. Louis region.   Its demise is sad and wrong.  Chesterfield Arts will be sorely missed.

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