Allied Arts Council History and Mission ...

The Allied Arts Council, the second oldest arts council in Missouri, was organized in 1963 to provide service to St. Joseph area arts organizations, artists, and the general public. The Council has since grown into a federation of fifteen arts agencies, produces community arts programs, raises funds, promotes public awareness, and provides service and support to its member agencies. The Allied Arts Council seeks to make St. Joseph a better place to live through the arts, and its mission is to provide leadership and support for the arts and to its member organizations. Simply put, our goal is to bring arts and people together.

As the leadership organization for the arts in St. Joseph, the Council fulfills its mission in several ways: by supporting its member organizations in promoting artistic opportunities; by providing financial support, and fostering coordinated cultural planning; by offering programs to educate and develop future audiences; by providing forums of expression for local artists; and by advocating for arts and its member organizations at the local, state, and national levels. The Allied Arts Council is managed by a professional staff of four and 31 board of directors. Our programs utilize over 2,000 volunteers each year.

In 1982, Council inaugurated the Arts Fund Drive. Since then, the Allied Arts Council has expanded its role in aiding in the development of professional arts for St. Joseph, while adding multi-disciplinary arts education programs, city-wide marketing efforts and programs to showcase the work of area artists.

The Arts Fund has grown from $67,000 in its first drive in 1982 to over $200,000. These dollars are a vital 10 - 20% of the dollars necessary to provide top quality arts programming for the St. Joseph area.
Currently, seven organizations receive allocations from the Arts Fund.

In 1982, Allied Arts launched the Artists in the Schools program. From 28 sessions its first year, this enrichment program now reaches 3,000-4,000 children annually with up to 100 sessions. This successful partnership with the St. Joseph School District led to the creation of the residency program in 1988.
Begun with one visiting artist, the program now reaches around 3,000 students and community members. Also begun in 1988 in cooperation with Missouri Western State University, Artscape is the only integrated summer arts program for children 8 to 15.

In 1983, Art for the Health of It, a partnership with Heartland Regional Medical Center, became the Council's first program to benefit area artists with two annual juried exhibits, and in 1991, Art for Business' Sake allowed the winners of the hospital shows to exhibit for the business community. With the growth of visual arts organizations, the Council phased out these programs to focus on public art, and in 2012, the first Traffic Box public art project was completed.

In the early 1990s, the Council secured a Missouri Arts Council/NEA grant for a cultural plan, which funded St. Joseph 2000's Arts and Cultural Task Force. Its objective, "creating a festival to showcase St. Joseph's unique cultural heritage" was the final impetus in Allied Arts leadership in developing Trails West!®, first as the 150th birthday celebration for St. Joseph in 1993 and then its adoption as the Council's signature event. Trails West!® is operated by the Allied Arts Council in partnership with the City of St. Joseph and the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau. The three-day festival is Northwest Missouri's largest annual arts festival, drawing over 40,000 visitors, and featuring 60 fine artists and crafters, food vendors, and local, regional and national entertainment.

Since April 2003, the Allied Arts Council has partnered with the St. Joseph School District in the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program. Since 2007 the Council has hosted the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Out Loud northwest Missouri regional competition.

In 2008, the Allied Arts Council, in partnership with the St. Joseph Public Library, Rolling Hills Regional Consolidated Library, and the St. Joseph School District received an NEA grant to host The Big Read in St. Joseph. Our event took place in May 2009, featuring The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, with a wide variety of activities appealing to a variety of age levels.
In 2008, the Missouri Arts Council awarded St. Joseph the Creative Community Missouri Arts Award, and in 2009, the Allied Arts Council was awarded the Missouri Arts Organization Award. St. Joseph's strong arts community is proud of its substantial contribution to economic development and for enhancing our city's livability.

From 2011 - 2015, the Allied Arts Council produced St. Joe's Got Talent as a fundraiser for the Arts Fund. In 2013 the Council launched the first annual Beer Walk for the Arts as an additional Arts Fund fundraiser, and this successful event continues to provide a unique way for the Council to connect arts and people together.

In 2014, after several years of planning, the Allied Arts Council in partnership with the City of St. Joseph and the St. Joseph Downtown Community Improvement District unveiled St. Joseph's first Sculpture Walk. Sculptures are owned by the artists and loaned to the St. Joseph Sculpture Walk for one year, and are available for purchase. Artists are eligible for awards, and the sculpture selected for the Best of Show Award will be purchased and relocated to a permanent location in St. Joseph.

The Allied Arts Council, one of 100 local arts agencies in the United States, recently participated in the Americans for the Arts local art index research project. AAC will be on the leading edge of the development and testing of the local index. The Council also participated in the Americans for the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study. These new and exciting works will help shape the future of the arts in St. Joseph and in America.

St. Joseph is a unique community for its size: being so close in proximity to Kansas City, it would be easy to defer to the larger city for quality arts opportunities. That has never been the case. It would be unfair to our children and our residents to take a "pass." Instead, St. Joseph, through the leadership and support of the Allied Arts Council, supports member arts agencies, stimulates new programs, fosters audience development, forges community partnerships, and seeks financial support to ensure that our citizens have opportunities to experience the power of the arts as active participants, not just passive bystanders. The arts are alive and thriving in our community!