Grand Center News

Grand Center Inc. Receives $100,000 Grant From Southwest Airlines


Southwest Airlines announced Grand Center, Inc. as one of six organizations selected to
receive a $100,000 grant as part of the 2015 Heart of the Community program led by Southwest
Airlines and Project for Public Spaces (PPS). The grant will help reimagine and activate Strauss
Park, located at the corner of Grand Blvd. and Washington Ave, as part of the larger Art & Music
Promenade (AMP) Connector project.
The six public spaces set to be developed, programmed and activated by the 2015 Southwest
grants include:
• Albuquerque, NEW MEXICO: Civic Plaza
• Fort Myers, FLORIDA: Cornog Plaza
• Jacksonville, FLORIDA: Hemming Park
• Milwaukee, WISCONSIN: 4MKE: 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue
• Portland, MAINE: Congress Square Park
• St. Louis, MISSOURI: Strauss Park
These six Heart of the Community spaces were selected through a competitive application
process. Proposed projects were evaluated in terms of preliminary work and preparedness,
capacity for local impact, potential for catalytic backing and strength of the commitment
demonstrated by local partners.
Non-profit organizations in each of the cities will administer the local grants. Partners include
Downtown ABQ Main Street Initiative, Lee County Library System, Friends of Hemming Park,
Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Friends of Congress Square Park and Grand Center, Inc. As a
part of the Heart of the Community grant, each local partner will receive technical assistance
from PPS to set a clear vision and programming platform to help activate their space.
“We are thrilled to have been selected as a 2015 grant recipient with the Heart of the
Community program and look forward to working with Southwest Airlines, PPS and our local
community. The AMP Connector project will conveniently connect visitors to the Grand Center
District to several arts venues, restaurants, retails shops and Strauss Park using cross-block
connector pathways that are well-lit and art-infused,” said Vince Schoemehl, President and CEO
of Grand Center, Inc.
Placemaking, an emerging movement with environmentalist roots, positions public space as an
engine for urban development, serving as catalyst for building sustainable, healthy, inclusive
and economically viable neighborhoods.
“Cities are more than destinations—they are places of human connections and livelihood,” said
Gary Kelly, Chairman, President, and CEO of Southwest Airlines. “Our purpose at Southwest is
to connect people to what’s important in their lives. What better way to do that than by helping to
create more access to our public spaces where communities can come together.”
Strengthened by broad community participation and engagement, Placemaking incorporates the
planning, design, management and program development for public spaces as a means to
advance vibrant, sustainable communities. Placemaking strengthens the connection between
people and the places they share. For the past half-century, common urban problems, like traffic
dominated streets, unused parks and isolated, underperforming capital improvement projects
have led to increased feelings of social isolation and division. Tantamount to the social benefits
of Placemaking, the process minimizes environmental impact by challenging individuals to
reimagine public space without reliance on major capital projects and over consumption of
natural resources.
For more than 40 years, Southwest’s lead partner Project for Public Spaces (PPS) has refined
the participatory Placemaking process. “The best way to build a sustainable world is by focusing
on Place,” said Fred Kent, Founder and President of PPS. “Placemaking is more than how we
design public spaces—it is a means by which people are collectively and intentionally shaping
their environment and building deep and lasting community ties. Placemaking turns our
approaches to land-use, transportation, governance, and the environment upside-down by
asking people what they fundamentally need in a public space and empowering them to be a
part of the development process.”
Grand Center, Inc.
Contact: Michelle Stevens
Direct: 314-289-1520
National Media Contacts
To schedule an interview with a representative from PPS or Southwest, contact Ashley Bain at
214-443-7586 or
Visit the Southwest Newsroom at for multi-media assets and other
company news.
Southwest Media Relations Team can be reached at 214-792-4847, option 1.


St. Lou Fringe Announces Fourth Season

Named in its third year as one of nine intriguing Fringe festivals in the country, St Lou Fringe will expand its programming to two weekends and concentrate its footprint in the Grand Center Arts District

The 2015 St Lou Fringe Festival will centralize its venues this year into Grand Center, and expand from a single-weekend extravaganza, to a 10-day event to be held June 17-27. Organizers expect the expansion to allow for more prime time performances, more chances for patrons to see shows, and to accommodate the growing local and national Fringe movement.  

“The past three years have been so formative - we feel it is time to make the next step,” said executive director Em Piro.  “This is a natural evolution that maintains our focus on independent performing arts and accessibility to all the culturally curious people in our community.”

Performances will run only on the weekends, with additional programming - such as one-off events, workshops, sessions with artists, and other creative projects that activate Grand Center - to fill out the week.

Organizers say that their focus this year is on more fine-tuned, specific programs and events, rather than filling what had been a full half-mile footprint with programming.  Patrons can expect fewer street performers (though there will be busking on the grounds), and will have more program-specific opportunities and “thought salon” environments to connect with other artists and arts enthusiasts.  Favorite programs from the past years, such as Fringe Family and The Ghost Light magazine, are expected to continue to grow in the 2015 season.  

In addition to the refined festival programming, St Lou Fringe will repeat two popular off-season events which made their premieres in 2014.  In March, “Five-Fifths” will return as a showcase of five curated acts performing chapters of a shared classic story.  In May, “Act Your Pants Off” will feature a jovial showcase of some of the region’s finest thespians whose talent is put to the test.  Both events are benefits for the 2015 festival.

“Independent voices are critical for the ongoing recovery and discovery of our cultural identity as a whole community,” said Piro.  “It’s important and an honor to be a part of the renaissance.”

Submissions to produce at the 2015 festival will open online on the fifteenth of January.


Pokey LaFarge to Headline First Night 2015 in Grand Center

First Night in Grand Center, St. Louis’ largest, most creative New Year’s Eve celebration, will turn Grand Center into “St. Lou-minous.” Hometown singer/songwriter Pokey LaFarge and his band will headline the event, which features St. Louis artists and performers. From 6:00 p.m. to midnight on Wednesday, December 31st, First Night will honor and celebrate the arts in St. Louis.

This year’s theme, “St. Lou-minous,” closes the city’s stl250 celebrations while looking toward the bright and luminous future of St. Louis. Grand Center will be abuzz with music, dance, magic, comedy, activities for all ages and two fireworks displays to greet 2015. Attracting thousands of people from all over the region and across the country, First Night in Grand Center is an indoor and outdoor visual and performing arts festival on the streets with more than a dozen performance locations throughout Grand Center to celebrate the coming of the New Year.

Pokey LaFarge is a nationally known, St. Louis-based singer/songwriter who has climbed to the forefront of American music. Over the last decade, LaFarge has won the hearts of music lovers across the globe with a sound that includes a creative mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues and western swing. After signing with Jack White’s Third Man Records in 2013, he released his fifth full-length album, Pokey LaFarge. LaFarge has performed as a musical guest on The Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show on Ireland’s RTÉ One network. He and his band will perform on the Main Stage immediately following the 9:00 p.m. fireworks display.

After the 6:00 p.m. opening ceremony on the Main Stage at Grand Boulevard and Lindell Boulevard, performances continue throughout the night. This family-friendly, alcohol-free event offers entertainment options for all. Scheduled performers include music, comedy, magic and dance acts. There will also be a separate venue with activities and performers especially for families with younger children. A full list of scheduled performances will be released in December.

Once again First Night has had tremendous support from local sponsors. First Night 2015 sponsors include Ameren, Boeing Employees Community Fund, Electrical Connection, The Jordan Foundation, Klance Unlimited, Missouri Arts Council, Regional Arts Commission and Wells Fargo.

About First Night: Established in St. Louis in 1991, First Night is a community New Year’s Eve celebration. Held in the Grand Center District, First Night includes both outdoor and indoor family-friendly activities and events. First Night’s mission is to broaden and deepen public appreciation of the arts through an innovative, diverse and high quality program that offers the community a shared cultural experience that is accessible and affordable to all. In order to maximize the participation of people of all ages, First Night is a non-alcoholic event.


Local and International Voices Share Stories of Love and Passion

Internationally acclaimed Fringe performer to add St Louis to her US tour 

What do stories of sex work, loss of virginity, pregnancy, and group sex have in common? They are all part of the unconventional love stories that international Fringe performer Rosie Bitts tells in her critically acclaimed new solo play Stories of Love and Passion. Rosie mixes cabaret, burlesque, and storytelling to create a roller coaster ride of a show that takes the audience from laughter to tears to titillation within the span of an hour. 

Bitts’ play is a spectacle for the senses featuring fabulous live music (Bitts sings soulfully and is accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Jeff Poynter), gorgeous costumes, and some very cheeky burlesque.

Rosie was invited to perform in NYC at the United Solo Theatre Festival, the biggest festival of solo work in the world, and this invitation became the impetus for a US tour that will see her hitting eight cities in seven states. This is Rosie’s very first time in St. Louis, where she is presented by St Lou Fringe.

“I think it’s important to tell true stories, ones that aren’t your traditional, candy-coated love stories,” says Bitts.  She describes the show as edgy, but emphasizes that the stories – all of which are based in truth from her life, or the lives of those close to her - are relatable and important to share.  “They push the envelope and hopefully get the audience thinking about what has been forced underground in our society.” In St Louis, Stories of Love and Passion will feature two world premieres by St Louis artists that resonate with the style and subject of the evening.  On Friday Oct 17, The Wide-Eyed presents Whores, a raw and heartfelt exploration of modern-day relationships in which three women find their voices in a world that compels most to silence.  On Saturday Oct 18, Vip the Clown presents Insufficiently Sober, in which the art of physical comedy is used to explore the shame and trauma associated with alcoholism in a bittersweet tribute to Vaudeville-era storytelling. 

Rosie is also a strong advocate for Sex Workers’ rights and is using the show to raise awareness by promoting a local organization that supports sex workers in each city she’s in. Five percent of the profits from this play will be donated to those organizations – locally, the performances will benefit Sex Positive St Louis. 

Performances are Oct 17-18 at 8pm and take place at the Kranzberg Arts Center, with tickets ranging from $12-$25.  Following each performance, the cast will hold a reception and discussion at The Dark Room wine bar, two blocks north of the venue.  For more information:, 314-643-7853,


Public Media Commons

Opens September 13 in St. Louis Grand Center Arts District

A collaboration of the Nine Network of Public Media, St. Louis Public Radio and the University of Missouri-St. Louis


When the Public Media Commons opens to the public on September 13, 2014, the unique open-air media environment in the Grand Center Arts District of St. Louis will bring people together for experiences that stimulate creative thinking and serve the community as an incubator of arts and ideas.

“The possibilities are endless,” says Jack Galmiche, president and CEO of the Nine Network of Public Media. “We’re inviting individuals and organizations to participate in the creation of experiences that bring the arts and dynamic digital video together to help us see things as we have never seen them before.”

Bordered by the Nine Network, St. Louis Public Radio and the Sheldon Concert Hall in the heart of the Grand Center Arts District, the Public Media Commons will provide a playground for the mind and the senses. 

The 9,000-square-foot space is flanked by large-screen video walls—two stories high—on two sides. Equipped with the latest audio/visual technology, the space will encourage the community to explore what can be created and experienced in a dynamic cityscape conducive to collaboration and experimentation.

The scale of the walls, the vivid quality of the imagery and sound, the surrounding urban architecture, and even a landscaped knoll for quiet contemplation will provide an environment like no other — an urban environment for shared creative experiences.

St. Louis Public Radio General Manager Tim Eby says: “We are looking forward to the opening night celebration, as it will enable the St. Louis community to experience a wonderful new gathering space—a space that is certain to become a destination place for concerts, festivals, art installations, interactive experiences and much, much more. September 13th will, undoubtedly, be the start of something special.”

The evening will include dynamic video on the big screens, interactive experiences, entertainment, food trucks, and live music by Sleepy Kitty and The Reverbs. Among the featured videos is a showpiece by filmmaker Frank Popper and the world premiere of Electric Pilgrims: Everyone Is Everywhere, designed as a site-specific multiscreen experience for the opening by Van McElwee, internationally acclaimed video artist and professor at Webster University in the School of Communications. The party begins at 7:00 p.m.

“Creative and informed citizens are the foundation of a great community,” UMSL Chancellor Tom George says. “We’re proud that UMSL has partnered with the Nine Network and St. Louis Public Radio to strengthen that foundation with the Media Commons in Grand Center. It furthers our commitment to St. Louis and the people who make this region an outstanding place to live and learn.” 

According to Grand Center Arts District President and CEO Vince Schoemehl, the Public Media Commons is unique. “We don’t know of any place like it in the world,” says Schoemehl. “It’s an environment where all ages can actively engage in creative experiences on a large scale. The Public Media Commons will be a dynamic new attraction for our region.”

The two large-scale video walls—two stories high—will become “windows on the world,” providing cultural and sensory adventures for all ages. In addition to the video walls the space will include four interactive touch screens, a performance stage and a window into one of the Nine Network studios. 

The community will also be invited to participate in developing content. Already underway are collaborations with StoryCorps, the Contemporary Art Museum, Feast Magazine, Alarm Will Sound, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Sheldon Concert Hall and TEDxGatewayArch.

The public will be able to visit the Public Media Commons from morning to night for experiences ranging from large-screen video productions to performances, events, films, and interactive audio/visual adventures that ignite wonder. A schedule of activities and video content will be available at in early September. The Public Media Commons will also be available for rental.

The public and media are invited to the opening on September 13, but space is limited. Tickets for the public are free and available through EventBrite beginning Tuesday, September 2 at 10:00 a.m. Media should call or email Terri Gates (314) 512-9036 or

The Public Media Commons is a collaboration of the Nine Network of Public Media, the University of Missouri-St. Louis and St. Louis Public Radio. The Public Media Commons is managed by the Nine Network and is privately funded by local contributors.

Funding for the Public Media Commons has been generously provided by the Emerson Charitable Trust, The Boeing Company, Nancy and Ken Kranzberg, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Edward Jones, Interco Charitable Trust, the Richard A. Baker Foundation, the Steward Family Foundation, the WWT Foundation, and the Trio Foundation of St. Louis.

The Public Media Commons was designed by a team from Powers Bowersox Associates Inc. led by Ben Gilmartin, AIA, who previously was a lead designer on the Lincoln Center Promenade. Other elements of the Public Media Commons were designed by Electrosonic, Inc.; Dlandstudio, LLC; Randy Burkett Lighting Design, Inc.; and HDR, Inc. Electrosonic provided audio/visual design and implementation on the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and Millennium Park in Chicago.


Grand Center launches free Fall 2014 Architecture and History Tours

Free walking tours available in September and October

Grand Center, Inc. is launching the Fall 2014 series of its Grand Center Architecture and History Tours sponsored by Enterprise Bank & Trust. Tours run each Saturday in September and October from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, beginning September 6 through October 25.  Sign up for the free walking tours is available at

During the 1.5 mile walk around the Grand Center District, tour patrons will enjoy discovering the history behind Midtown and Grand Center. The tours provide a fascinating look into the history of Grand Center as a bustling arts, entertainment and medical hub in the early 1900s, and explore the background and architecture of buildings in Grand Center. Patrons also get a glimpse into the planned future transformation of Grand Center into a nationally-recognized cultural and entertainment destination through the Growing Grand Plan.

“Grand Center has such a vibrant and unique history as an arts and cultural destination,” explains Vince Schoemehl, President and CEO of Grand Center, Inc. “We are thrilled to continue to share that history with the St. Louis community and beyond thanks to Enterprise Bank & Trust.”

Tour patrons also have the opportunity to enter various museums, galleries or other institutions in Grand Center if time allows, viewing the latest art and cultural exhibits that Grand Center offers. More information on Grand Center Architecture and History Tours is available at




On Sale Friday, August 15

St. Louis, MO (August 11, 2014) –  SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, the 11-time Primetime Emmy® Award-winning show that sparked America’s fascination with dance, is set to captivate audiences again this fall – live on tour – with more stops than ever before. Celebrating its momentous 11th season, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s Top 10 finalists will make their way across North America, performing in more than 70 cities, as part of the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE TOUR 2014. The Season 11 tour lineup includes the following Top 10 finalists: Bridget Whitman, Casey Askew, Emilio Dosal, Jacque LeWarne, Jessica Richens, Ricky Ubeda, Rudy Abreu, Tanisha Belnap, Valerie Rockey and Zack Everhart. SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE airs Wednesdays (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.

Tickets for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE at the Fabulous Fox go on sale Friday, August 15 at 10 a.m. online at, by calling 314-534-1111 or in person at the Fox Theatre Box Office. Ticket prices start at $39.50. Prices are subject to change; please refer to for current pricing.

The tour kicks off on Wednesday, Oct. 1, at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans and crosses the United States and Canada with more than 70 stops. The first leg of the tour will finish up on Friday, Dec. 19, at the Maverick Center in West Valley City, UT. The dancers will return for the second leg of the tour, starting at the Rabobank Theatre in Bakersfield, CA, on Thursday, Jan. 22. 

The official tour routing is available on Fans can sign up for the Newsletter to find out how they can get early access to tickets. Tickets go on sale to the public beginning Friday, Aug. 15. Visit for more information.  

Fall’s hottest ticket will feature this season’s most popular routines, as well as original pieces created specifically for the nationwide tour. 19 Entertainment and dick clark productions will present audiences around the country with the opportunity to experience the action brought into their living rooms each week on the beloved summer series, with a variety of sizzling, one-of-a-kind dance routines they have come to expect from their favorite dancers.   

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE recently received seven 2014 Primetime Emmy® Award nominations, including Outstanding Reality-Competition Program and Outstanding Host In A Reality or Reality-Competition Program (Cat Deeley), in addition to Outstanding Choreography nominations. SYTYCD’s outstanding costume team of Marina Toybina and Grainne O’Sullivan also won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Variety Program.

“I am thrilled with the spectacular, fresh talent we have discovered this season. I believe these dancers have inspired the choreographers to create remarkable dance numbers each week.  I am excited for your favorite dancers to bring their inspiration and routines to even more cities throughout the nation on this year’s tour,” stated Nigel Lythgoe, judge, executive producer and co-creator of the hit FOX series.  


Arts America Explores Grand Center’s Transformation

The Nine Network Arts Series Also Includes a Segment Featuring an Art Carnival

The August 2 episode of Arts America, the Nine Network’s weekly arts series, spotlights Grand Center President and CEO Vince Schoemehl. He talks about how the arts are transforming Grand Center and what this transformation means to the region. This segment will air as part of the show on August 2 at 3:30 p.m. on Nine PBS. (Arts America will be broadcast again on August 3 at 1:00 p.m.)

Another Arts America segment introduces Sideshow of the Absurd, a traveling exhibit that offers an interactive art carnival in a museum setting. Although humorous and fun, the exhibit also takes on serious topics like the contemporary notions of female power.

Other segments feature multi-disciplinary artist Carlito Dalceggio, whose work combines pop imagery and mysticism; a Dayton fusion dance company pushing the boundaries of contemporary dance; and Los Angeles photographer Eric Anderson, who places real people in an imaginary world.

The Grand Center story is an Art Fusion segment, which is created by the Nine Network in partnership with the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) and the Radio Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Arts America is a weekly series showcasing arts stories from the Nine Network and PBS stations across the country. Nine’s St. Louis arts segments are also shown on PBS stations in 30 cities nationwide. Every episode spotlights local arts organizations. Arts America and all arts programming on the Nine Network are sponsored by PNC Bank. All Art Fusion segments can also be viewed online in the Art Fusion Gallery at or as part of Arts America programs at


Missouri Style Week Draws Regional, National and International Designers

Missouri Style Week kicks off Wednesday, August 20 and will run through Saturday, August 23 at the Moto Museum located in the Grand Center District. This year, the event will feature local, regional, national and international clothes and accessories designers. Revered Puerto Rico-based designer Jaer Cabán whose work has been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine is flying in to show his latest collection. Jaer has designed clothes and costumes for music artists like Nelly Furtado, Paulina Rubio and Pitbull for the Billboard Music Awards and other major events. 

Accessory designer Stevie Boi whose A-list clientele includes Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Beyonce is also flying in to show support for Missouri designers, and showcase his latest collection of hot shades on opening night, then emcee the next night. Stylist to the stars Derek Warburton will be in town to host the ‘Classic Couture’ themed night. Derrick has styled models and actresses, including Jessica Alba and Scandal’s Bellamy Young (Melle Grant). At this year’s Academy Awards, when Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Darlene Love, accepted her Oscar for “20 Feet From Stardom”, she was styled by Derek. 

Highlights also include a bustling marketplace with red carpet, vendor shopping, complimentary cocktails, appetizers and desserts, live entertainment by music artist Rochelle Coco Soul, Fly Girl Nation, a hot new ensemble of female kid dancers and more. Missouri Style Week 2014 is also a celebration of music, a huge influencer of style. Emcees for the other nights include; St. Louis Post Dispatch Music Critic Kevin Johnson and Radio Host Mz. Janee. St. Louis Designer Shan Keith who recently made the top four designers on Lifetime Television’s ‘Project Runway: Under the Gunn’ will show his collection during a special tribute and co-host on Thursday night.

Each night helps raise awareness about a nonprofit’s programs, mission and needs through public relations, marketing and community outreach. This year’s nonprofit partners are Grand Center, The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition and Connections to Success. Missouri Style Week is brought to you Urban Canvas Events & Spaces. To purchase tickets, visit 

A special thanks to our sponsors and partners for making this event possible. Urban Canvas Events & Spaces, Grand Center, Avondale Partners, Bronx Diba/Luchiny, American Harvest Organic Spirit, Cutex, BazaarBoy, Prophoto STL, St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery, Radio One, Gazelle STL (Magazine), Delux Magazine, Vivant Entertainment Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, Connections to Success, The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. 

Missouri Style Week is a Gazelle STL Magazine & K. Lee Productions Event. Designer Bios, Celebrity appearances, ‘Marketplace’ vendors and more are available on our website.


Call for Artists for First Night in Grand Center 2015 issued by Grand Center, Inc.

Grand Center, Inc. is searching for a design illustration for First Night in Grand Center 2015 to be held on December 31, 2014. The theme of First Night 2015 is “St. Lou-minous.” As St. Louis closes its STL 250 celebrations, we look toward the bright and luminous future of St. Louis. To honor and celebrate St. Louis, First Night in Grand Center 2015 will showcase St. Louis artists and performers.

All designs must be submitted by 5pm on August 8, 2014, to Submissions must include artist name, current address and daytime phone. High resolution, digital files must be submitted in Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop formats and become the sole property of Grand Center, Inc. Review and selection of design will be made no later than August 15, 2014. The selected design will appear on the Grand Center website, posters, programs, buttons and other forms of media associated with First Night in Grand Center 2015. Previous First Night design illustrations can be viewed at A cash stipend of $1,000 will be given to the selected artist.

First Night is a community New Year’s Eve celebration. First Night in St. Louis takes place in Grand Center with both outdoor and indoor family friendly activities and events. First Night’s mission is to broaden and deepen the public’s appreciation of the arts through an innovative, diverse and high quality program that offers the community a shared cultural experience that is accessible and affordable to all. In order to maximize the participation of people of all ages, First Night is a non-alcoholic event. Visit for more information.



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