The Steelville Arts Council was founded in July 2010 as a nonprofit, 501c3 organization with a mission of promoting artistic endeavors and fostering the arts community in and around Steelville. Over the years, the Steelville area has become home for a number of artists, both professional and nonprofessional, working in various disciplines. Nestled in the Meramec Valley region of Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, Steelville offers artists a quiet place of natural beauty and inspiration in which painters, musicians, dancers, sculptors and folk artists continue to pursue their art forms.
Until now, there has never been a reason for these artists to work together or a central location in which they might do so. There is not a close working relationship among the artists living in the Steelville area, nor is there much interaction between artists and the community in which they live. That is all about to change.
The Steelville Arts Council (SAC) seeks to create a center for the arts in downtown Steelville. Such a locale would provide working space for performing artists, public gallery space for artists to display and sell their work, and areas in which the public may share in art exhibitions or educational workshops.
The arts council has already purchased the historic Evans House on Main Street and begun major renovations to the home and property that will allow it to serve as an arts center not only for the City of Steelville but for all of Crawford County, Missouri.
“This is about educating our community about the art that is available to them and also building closer relationships between the artists in Steelville and the people of Steelville,” explained Scott Perkins, SAC president. “There are so many talented artists living and working in this area, but nobody ever really hears about them. No one knows what they’re doing. We want to change that. We want to close that gap.”
“People just don’t realize how many artists are working right here in Steelville,” added SAC vice president Bob Bell. “The quality of that work is simply amazing, and we want to be able to share that with everyone. This idea is about rethinking Steelville and creating a new vision for our future.”
In forming the new council, the board members discussed not only the need for greater art exposure and opportunities for young people in the community but also the desire to see Steelville be revitalized as an Ozark artistic Mecca.
“Steelville needs a new way forward, and the Steelville Arts Council is going to play an important role in helping to steer it in the right direction,” Bell further explained. “Creating new art spaces in Steelville will lead to all kinds of new opportunities for special events, art shows, gallery openings, dance performances, all kinds of things like that. And those will, in turn, lead to new economic doors being opened up and new revenue streams coming into town. We see this as not only having benefits from a cultural perspective but also from an economic one. Those two things can work hand in hand together.”
The SAC has created a special endowment fund in which to provide long-term sustainability and growth for both the Evans House arts center facility and the various arts-related programs and events being planned for 2011 and beyond. A long-term-marketing budget will be used to raise awareness of the arts council and its programs outside the mid-Missouri region, and drive participation in the council’s multiple arts initiatives.
“It’s not that a few of us got together and formed a council just to put on an art show or a play. We intended for this arts council to be very proactive in developing new and creative ways to market Steelville as an art destination in Missouri,” Perkins concluded. “We want to have the most vibrant, active arts council not just in our area but in the entire state.”
The council believes that the arts can have great economic benefits and that cultural enrichment programs will make Steelville and Crawford County an even more desirable place for families to live in. An increase in art exposure to the general public will lead to future tourism and economic growth for Steelville.