Bringing the arts and people together since 1963

Allied Arts Council History   [ return to "About Us" ]

Charter Board Members - 1963

of the Allied Arts Council Board
from David Morton - 1964 or 1965

A speech on the Founding of the Council - 1978

Executive Directors
of the Council

Bringing Arts and People Together encapsulates the mission of the Allied Arts Council of St. Joseph, Missouri. As the leadership organization for the arts in St. Joseph, the Council fulfills its mission in several ways: by supporting its fourteen 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. Organized in 1963, the second oldest arts council in Missouri has an over fifty year history of service to arts organizations, artists and the general public.

St. Joseph, in Buchanan County, Missouri, is the regional base for artistic programming to a rural, underserved agriculturally based population of 290,000 people of Northwest Missouri. The Allied Arts Council serves Northwest Missouri as a regional arts council.

Since 1963, the Allied Arts Council has coordinated planning efforts, assisted emerging arts groups and provided services to member organizations. In 1982, the Council reorganized to inaugurate 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, public art projects, 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 in its campaign last spring. These dollars are a vital 25% of the dollars necessary to provide top quality arts programming for the St. Joseph area. Currently, six organizations receive allocations from the Fund. 

In 1982, Allied Arts inaugurated the Artists in the Schools program. From 28 sessions its first year, this enrichment program now reaches 4,500 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. Poetry Out Loud and Kennedy Center Partners in Education are national programs in which the Council partners with the St. Joseph School District. Visual arts programs include Traffic Box Art, turning traffic boxes into works of art, and the Sculpture Walk, in partnership with the City of St. Joseph. The Mayor’s Awards for the Arts recognize outstanding artistic achievement and contribution.

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. As of 1991, Art for Business’ Sake allows the winners of the hospital shows to exhibit for the benefit of the business community. Another visual arts program is the Biennial Award, honoring lifetime achievement and commitment to the arts. These programs were rested as other arts organizations fulfilled this community need and the Council chose to focus on public art projects.

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 Trails West!®, first as the 150th birthday celebration for St. Joseph in 1993 and then its adoption as the Council’s signature event. Now in its nineteenth year, 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 45,000 visitors, and featuring 60 fine artists and crafters, food vendors, and local, regional and national entertainment. The founders of the festival instituted a high quality, all juried process that insures adherence to the mission statement: Trails West! ®is an annual arts festival celebrating the unique cultural heritage of St. Joseph, Mo. The interpretation of this heritage will include arts and crafts, music, re-enactments, demonstrations, presentations, historic architecture, food, games, and drama in ways that will appeal to people of all ages, income levels, and interests. St. Joseph's significant role in the expansion of the American West, especially the years before 1900, will be emphasized.”

In June, 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 St. Joseph community was awarded the prestigious “Creative Community 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. A 2003 Arts and Economic Prosperity study by American for the Arts found the local non-profit arts industry generates $8.3 million in local economic activity. A common misconception that “communities support the arts at the expense of local economic development” was put to rest as the study pointed out that when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life but we also invest in St. Joseph’s economic well-being. Over 303 full-time equivalent jobs are generated and expenditures of over $8 million demonstrate that spending by the arts organizations is far-reaching: they pay their employees, purchase supplies, and acquire assets within the local community. In addition, non-profit arts programs leverage significant amounts of event-related spending by their audiences. Our arts events act as a magnet to attract visitors to the community: while 2/3 of attendees at arts events are from the St. Joseph community, 1/3 from outside the city. During their visit, visitors shop, dine and fill their cars with gas.

Our services to member agencies include an Artist Registry promoting artists living in our area, marketing support through our quarterly newsletter Voice of the Arts, bi-weekly e-mail updates and an online calendar of events and the Missouri Theater website.  Council staff also provides grant-writing reviews, access to patron database, and promotes arts funding at the local, state, and national level. Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts selected AAC as one of 100 communities to participate in the inaugural Local Arts Index, which measured the health and vitality of arts in Buchanan County and AAC conducted an Arts & Economic Prosperity IV Economic Impact Study. The report shows that nonprofit arts have a $10.9 million economic impact. The study provides important information to the Council and its member agencies about the important role the arts play in our community. The Council was chosen again as one of 200 communities to be part of Arts & Economic Prosperity V.

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!

THE ALLIED ARTS COUNCIL OF ST. JOSEPH, MISSOURI, INC. was incorporated August 28, 1963 by the Junior League of St. Joseph, MO, Inc. and the following CHARTER BOARD MEMBERS:

Mrs. William Abramson

Mrs. Bartlett Boder

Mrs. David Bradley

Mrs. Henry D. Bradley

Mr. Jordan Bushman

Mrs. Stuart Campbell

Mrs. Jerre Cooper

Mrs. R. W. Fletcher

Mrs. Hugh Gettys

Mrs. M. E. Grimes

Mr. Christopher Harris

Mrs. Raymond Herschman

Miss Majory Hine

Mr. James M. Hower, Sr.

Mrs. James E. Josendale

Mr. Jack Killackey

Mrs. Russell G. Kinkaid

Mrs. John R. McDaniel

Mrs. Wilbur McDonald

Mr. David H. Morton

Dr. Thompson Potter
Mrs. Whitney W. Potter

Mr. John A. Ross, Jr.

Mrs. Barkley Vineyard

Mrs. W. C. Wessell

PRESIDENTS of the Allied Arts Council Board of Directors:


Mrs. Henry D. Bradley

1964-65, 1965-66

David H. Morton

1966-67, 1967-68

Jordan Bushman


Jack Killackey

1969-70, 1970-71, 1971-72

Byron D. Myers

1972-73, 1973-74

Phillip A. Lawrence, Jr.


Mrs. J. R. Taliaferro


Robert G. Powell.


Dr. James V. Mehl


James M. Hower, Jr.


Byron D. Myers

1979-80, 1980-81, 1981-82

Dr. George S. Richmond


Michael Meierhoffer


James Carolus, Joe McCarty

1984-85, 1985-86

Dr. James V. Mehl


Gloria Davis

1987-88, 1988-89

William I. McMurray


Richard C. Vicklund

1990-91, 1991-92

Creath S. Thorne

1992-93, 1993-94

Karen L. Graves

1994-95, 1995-96

James V. Barry

1996-97, 1997-98

Ali Wray


Dick Sipe


Merry Burtner


Dr. James Roever


Nancy Reese-Dillon

2002-2003, 2003-2004

Janie Findley

2004-2005, 2005-2006 Bobbie Cronk
2006-2007, 2007-2008

Kathy Hill-Bahner

2008--2009, 2009-2010 Richard Crumley
2010-2012 Alison Schieber
2012-2014 Natalie Redmond
2014- Larry Stobbs

 David Morton was very active in the arts during his lifetime, and was instrumental in gaining control of the Missouri Theater and deeding it to the City of St. Joseph. The Morton Fund of the AAC was created in his honor. Below follows his comments from 1965.


            With the Council’s 1965 budget substantially underwritten, we should re-examine our plans for the months ahead.

            We have already outlined the tangible services performed by the Council during its first sixteen months.  We have perhaps faltered in one main function – to do long-range planning for the arts.

            Teddy Roosevelt once said, in describing cooperation, that coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.  Just starting our second fiscal year, we can hardly claim to be more than “keeping together.”

            The great potential service of the Council is to bring together persons vitally interested in the various arts for discussion and planning, in order that bridges of understanding may be built between the arts groups. Our committee structure must be activated, and interested persons, who are representative of the whole community, must be engaged in these deliberations.

            As a new organization we have been primarily concerned with the many administrative problems common to the arts:  tax exemption, membership campaigns, ticket drives, public relations, mailing lists, etc.  Here the advantages of cooperation are apparent to even the most individualistic artistic temperament.

            Now we should move into the more substantive fields, recognizing that the Council is no panacea.  With energy and imagination we can do much to strengthen all of the arts and to rally public support for these important causes.  The Council offers an effective forum for the discussion of common problems and for the removal of irritants before they become major crises.  This facet of the Council has not been put to full use.

            The accomplishments will not be as dazzling and immediately apparent as in the case of our more tangible services.  Some sage once said, “The arts are not cast in a mold, but are formed and protected by degrees, by often handling and polishing, as bears leisurely lick their cubs into form.”  If we adopt some of this patience, I believe we will not be disappointed with the work of our Council as a planning instrument.

                                                                                    David Morton

Below follows a speech presented 11/17/78 to the local chapter of the P.E.O. from a representative of the Allied Arts Council .  Mrs. Edward (Madeline) Barlow was Executive Director at this time. 

            The St. Joseph Art League was in existence for many years with meetings in various places and no real home of their own.  They then fell heir to some funds from an estate and acquired the Hax Art Center on Francis St. (Dr. Fields’ office area, I think) next to the Robidoux Hotel.  They set up an office there and also used the building for exhibition purposes.  They acquired a few paintings of their own, forming the nucleus of the present Albrecht permanent collection. 

            The Allied Arts Council was formed in 1963 (Mrs. Henry Bradley served on Governor Dalton’s Missouri Committee for the Arts back in 1963 and could see the value of the arts to the state.  If it was good for Missouri, why not St. Joseph, must have been her thought.)  So she brought together a group of residents who were also interested in the arts and together with their leadership and the willingness of the Junior League to serve as the catalyst, the Arts Council was incorporated in August of 1963.

            In 1965, the Arts Council moved to the new Albrecht Gallery at 2818 Frederick, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Conger Beasley to the Art League, but in 1967 or 1968, moved back to the Hax Center with the Symphony until the Chamber of Commerce took them into their office in September.

            Martha Ann Thompson, Allied Arts Council Director for three years, suggests the old Hax Art Center was often like working in a sauna bath with pipes falling down.

            Jean Duncan Wright served as the first director of the Council and with the help of numerous Junior League volunteers set up all the office procedures, mailing lists, billing process and methods for handling the various problems of the member groups.  The Junior League gave literally thousands of hours during their two-year probationary period, and many of those volunteers continued to serve the Council in the years following.  Many of them still continue as board members of the various groups and as volunteers with the other members of the Council.

            The League gave the Council $5,000 to begin their first year, and in the next year added to that fund with another lesser sum.  Dues were set up for the member organizations on the basis of the amount of work requested in the Council office – which meant that every volunteer who did work in the office kept track of every minute they spent on every job for a full year.  Jean Wright directed all of this activity and also acted as hostess for the Albrecht Gallery while the Council was there.

            After the move back downtown, the director of the Council was on a part-time basis, receiving pay by the hour (and with no fringe benefits involved!) and doing what had to be done for each group using the Council office.  Benefits to the groups included being able to print several years supply of stationery at a time which gives you a nice saving in printing costs; a central telephone and information center for the arts groups; a place where people know they can buy tickets for certain programs; a desk from which publicity can be issued either for a single group or for a collaboration of sponsorship (The Acting Co. – Community Concerts, MWSC, AAC), (St. Louis Symphony – AAC, MWSC, St. Joseph Symphony & Community Concerts), etc.

            A calendar of events is one of our major services, both to the members and to the general public.  Any group in town is welcome and requested to call and see what is listed for a certain date before they set the date for another event.  The Chamber of Commerce also has another list, which includes many of the regularly scheduled “association” and service club meetings – those meetings that are on a regular basis…the last Tuesday of every month, etc., as well as other special events (political, organizational, etc.).

            We maintain Addressograph mailing service for those members who desire that service.  Have been able to make a savings in that area through use of a local firm which made plates for us for nothing for several years…but since that firm changed to a computer system, we have had to buy them again…and found a retired Addressograph salesman who has his own machines to make the plates and also repairs machines and keeps us in supplies for a lot less than the big company would.  As a group (with several lists to maintain) the larger quantity ordered at one time again makes for savings for all.

            The Director of the Council also serves as program coordinator for the Community Concert programs – guidance on what to expect from the theatre at this particular time is vital.  Construction contracts will be “let” soon, we hope, and then there may be problems in presenting shows.  Volunteers simply don’t have the time to handle all the details anymore.  And to find the right place to get 100 chairs for a symphony orchestra or some such job takes a little experience and knowledge of the city that the average person simply doesn’t have.

            We, as members of state and national organizations, are listed in several national publications, and as a result receive mailings on educational opportunities, competitions of various kinds in the arts, arts and crafts shows in the area, program possibilities from universities as well as booking agents…publications from federal and state offices on the arts and humanities, and these are all for the use of our member groups, the schools, the college, and the public in general.

            Our funding comes principally from the dues we receive, and the past two years the Missouri Arts Council has paid half my salary (doubling it), we have gone to the public with requests for individual and patron memberships which has truly kept us alive.  If we increase our dues to member organizations, either they have to drop out because of lack of funds, or turn that increase over to their membership in a dues increase, and this could hurt them.  At times, we have asked for and received large donations from several of the larger firms and banks in town, but we don’t like to resort to that kind of funding.  Every group in our membership as well as many others approach these same businesses for support, and there are just so many dollars available.  We are now thinking about proposing to members of the Council that fundraising events be cleared through a special committee of the Council to try to keep this kind of thing under control.  Should one group feel free to go after a very large sum every year when other groups are fighting for survival?  The AAC cannot tell a group that they MAY NOT hold these activities, but some control or reservations must be put into effect.  Something like a Federated Arts Fund Drive similar to the United Way might well be the answer.  It’s been very successful in several other communities and it could work here, too.

            An Albany, N.Y. newspaper editor described an arts council in this way:  “Your problem is that you have to face in two directions at once.  From one side you have to look like a bunch of CPA’s; from the other, like you’re really with it.  And every now and then you get caught facing the wrong way.”  It’s a conflict of irreconcilables - - amateur vs. professional; elite vs. the broad public; excellence vs. equity; discipline vs. imagination; tradition/revolution/the force of a concept vs. the limitations of the materials used; innovative vs. sustaining…

            Thank you for letting me tell you about the Arts Council.  We sincerely hope you will feel free to call on us for any group you are active in or just for your own information at any time.  Theodore Bikel story – Appropriations Committee – investigation of why they should set up a large fund for the National Endowment for the Arts, “Gentlemen, no one will remember you!  NO!  No one will remember you or what you do---unless someone writes a poem or composes a symphony or paints a portrait…” 

Executive Directors
of the Allied Arts Council


Mrs. Edwin R. Wright


Martha Ann Thompson


Jean Laurent


Madeline Barlow


Evelyn Candler


June Walsh, Executive Secretary


Mary C. Brock


Wally Bloss

2005- Teresa Fankhauser

Allied Arts Council of St. Joseph
118 South 8th Street ~ St. Joseph, Missouri  64501 
Phone:  816.233.0231 ~ Fax:  816.233.6704 
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