About Us

Our mission

The arts have a unique power to inspire thoughtful discussion among diverse audiences, to bring people together, and to bridge divides through shared experiences.

 

There are issues that would benefit from considered collaboration between the arts and the faith community. There is no other organized, ongoing activity elsewhere in our community with this focus.

 

This process of collaboration will build on the St. Louis community's traditions of strong interfaith and inter-group collaboration, mutual respect among diverse groups, and civility in public discourse.

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Arts & Faith St. Louis has a unique origin story. Now, over a decade later, we still unite people of many faiths and cultures through music and art.  Find out more in this preview of our 2021 concert.

Our history

 

The Beginning

In 2011, an interfaith group of community leaders, convened by Batya Abramson-Goldstein of the Michael and Barbara Newmark Institute for Human Relations of the Jewish Community Relations Council and Timothy O’Leary of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, prepared the St. Louis community for a production of the opera The Death of Klinghoffer by creating programs for building understanding and bridging divides.  These successful efforts inspired the creation, with the collaboration of Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis and the Sheldon Concert Hall, of an Interfaith Concert marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

 

Music

The first concert in September 2011 encouraged the organizers to form Arts & Faith St. Louis with the mission of building a harmonious St. Louis and to create a Planning Committee chaired by Carolyn Losos.  Using the power of the arts to bring people of different faiths together to celebrate common bonds, learn about our differences, and grow together through shared arts experiences, the themes of past concerts have included a call for world peace, racial diversity and inclusion, outreach to young people in our region, welcoming the stranger, hope, and compassion.  The concert includes inspiring performances by many diverse faith community ensembles, professional artists such as soprano Christine Brewer, members of the St. Louis Symphony, jazz pianist Peter Martin, vocalist Denise Thimes, as well as an Interfaith Youth Chorus directed by Maria A. Ellis.  The annual concert continues to be the crown jewel of Arts & Faith St. Louis, and the theme for the 2021 10th anniversary concert is “Creating Our Future – Together!”

 

The Cave Project, a unique and important collaboration in 2017 led by Mont Levy, featured the contemporary music group, Alarm Will Sound, in two performances of a multimedia opera by Steve Reich at John Burroughs School.  A stellar committee of St. Louis leaders produced multiple community engagement programs.  These included lectures and presentations that amplified the message of the opera, reminding us of the common roots of the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. 

 

Visual Arts

Nearly every year, the annual concert has included an opportunity for performers and audience to mingle following the concert and to participate in sculptural public art erected on Washington Boulevard.  Visual art exhibits derived from these activities have toured to faith communities in the St. Louis region.

 

Videos to tell the story of interfaith understanding were introduced in 2017 at the annual concert.  The first two videos, in collaboration with Interfaith Quest, focused on interfaith youth and their approaches to building a more harmonious St. Louis. These videos showed the power of our youth to engage in and embrace interfaith understanding.  Another video in a subsequent year, utilized both drone and traditional techniques and provided the opportunity to “visit” a wide range of houses of worship.

 

Also in 2017, Arts & Faith St. Louis began an initiative called Faith and the Visual Arts and initiated a partnership with the Saint Louis Art Museum to create Interfaith Tours that use the museum’s collection as a guide to interfaith understanding.  Pairs of docents have designed tours that demonstrate common elements of our world’s great religions in art produced throughout the ages. Panel discussions and gallery talks have been presented, and a related initiative involves the scheduling of SLAM’s Study Room for groups of up to 15 for a private look at art and objects that are not on active display in the museum’s collection.

 

Storytelling

In 2019 Arts & Faith St. Louis began an ongoing collaboration with the St. Louis Storytelling Festival, presenting  Stories of Compassion and  Stories of Hope.  Storytelling in the spring and summer of 2020 and spring 2021 were well-attended virtual events.

 

Poetry and Dance

As part of its 10th anniversary season, Arts & Faith St. Louis commissioned a young poet, Rachel Aaliyah Jackson, to write a poem performed in dance, with choreography by Arica Brown of the Consuming Kinetics Dance Company.  The performance took place in November 2021. 

 

Planning Committee

Dr. Laura Arnold, Chair

Webster Groves Presbyterian Church

Batya Abramson-Goldstein

Arts & Faith St. Louis

Bala Anantharama

The Hindu Faith

Rabbi Rachel Bearman

Congregation Shaare Emeth

Rev. Sheila Bouie-Sledge

North Park United Methodist Church

David Brinker

Museum of Contemporary Religious Art

Patty Carleton

Baha'i Faith

Erin Fisher

Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis

Gretta Forrester

Annunziata Catholic Church

Ghazala Hayat, MD

Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis

Rev. Dieter Heinzl, Ph.D.

Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church

Dr. Stuart Hill

Webster University

Andrew Jorgensen

Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Rabbi Howard Kaplansky

Michael and Barbara Newmark Institute for Human Relations

Jim Kemp

First Congregational Church of St. Louis, UCC

Milton Kendrick III

Central Baptist Church-St. Louis

Carolyn Losos

Arts & Faith St. Louis

Phyllis Markus

Michael and Barbara Newmark Institute for Human Relations

Michael McMillan

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

Javier Orozco

Archdiocese of St. Louis

Rev. Jim Poinsett

Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis

Maharat Rori Picker -Neiss

Jewish Community Relations Council

Paul Reuter

Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries

Shima Rostami

Shia Islam

Angela Sander

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Bill Sitzer

Saint Louis Art Museum

Staff

Paul Reuter

Executive Director

preuter@thesheldon.org

 

Kathy Bratkowski

Development and Publicity Coordinator

kbratkowski@thesheldon.org

314-520-0221