St.ART’s mission is to be a catalyst for community enhancement, to start a dialogue that bridges racial barriers. It is our belief that street and performance art are the ideal mediums to begin the conversation.
St.ART’s Inspired Start
Michael Tompkins, an accomplished professional and leader in the wellness, hospitality and spa industry, was a recent transplant to St. Louis after Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson. After an initial period of chaos, his neighborhood came alive with individual acts of love by artists who were looking to rebuild the area. It was then, says Michael, that he changed from having ‘rose colored glasses’ about St. Louis, to becoming aware of the distinct socioeconomic/racial divide. “When I saw messages of frustration and despair, as well as messages of hope displayed in both graffiti (essentially vandalism) and amazing street art in St. Louis, it made me think about visiting art museums as a child. For me, large scale art has always had an ability to convey emotion on a much grander scale—the impact is so much bigger. I thought–wouldn’t it be cool to do a street art festival that allows the canvases to speak for the emotions of the community?” Michael began putting feelers out on creating the event, and the outpouring of support and love was overwhelming.
And so, St.ART was born.
Clearly, it took decades for the racial divide to get to this point, and we will not solve problems overnight. St.ART will open a dialogue to celebrate diversity, and act as a catalyst for change. The artists begin the dialogue by conveying the voice and frustration of the people on Day One: TRUTH, then express their vision of how it should be on Day Two: HOPE. The festival will be interactive with the audience as well, using yarn bombing on trees with pockets for the observers to leave their own personal messages.
From a grassroots funding perspective, our goal is to donate the proceeds of the canvas sales to fund resiliency programs for the inner city and police department. At this writing, we have already raised individual donations totaling more than 40 percent of our event budget—with nearly all donors from outside St. Louis.
Why do you think art is a good platform for opening a dialogue to healing?
I have seen first-hand that art is healing in my career as CEO of wellness resorts. I had the fortune of implementing a variety of art programs that made a huge impact of the lives of the both the artists and guests. Art is a catalyst for transformation because it is mindful, meaning it’s completely done in the moment.
Art brings various opinions together in a way where all opinions are valid. There is no black and white; right or wrong. Viewers of St.ART’s large scale canvases will draw their own conclusion as to the artists meaning and message—without being told how they should or should not feel. The art opens the dialogue.
Yes! St.ART is actively seeking volunteers to help with the event organization. Please contact ??? to find out how you can help us make a difference.