As Saint Louis University celebrates its Bicentennial year, the link between “the first university in the American West” and Grand Center Arts District has become so much more than just Grand. Ave. For 200 years, SLU has broken boundaries in education thanks to the leadership of many men and women who have also played an important role in the developments of the District.

Photo courtesy of Saint Louis University Studio Art.

The partnership between SLU’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts and the Kranzberg Arts Foundation has added another layer to that link, connecting students and a broader audience to the University’s arts programs and, St. Louis epicenter for the arts, Grand Center Arts District.

Starting with the 2017 school year, SLU began leasing venues like the Grandel Theatre for their main stage theatre productions and select guest arts events, giving students access to professional-level spaces. “The ability to perform at a theatre like the Grandel allows students to gain experience in a professional setting, as well as learn in a more hands-on way about logistics and production,” says Department Chair Laura Franklin.

In addition, last year KAF opened up new internship opportunities for SLU students in the areas of arts management and education, helping them go beyond performance and gain experience in art-making and community outreach. This has also allowed them to expand their studio offerings: two classes – Jewelry & Metalsmithing and Fibers & Textiles – are offered at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design’s Grand Center location in the Kranzberg Arts Center.

The partnership between SLU and KAF allows students to learn and grow in close proximity to professionals and working artists, as well as acts as a pathway to bring the students off-campus and into an active, professional arts community. The hope is that it will inspire them to explore areas surrounding the school and gain a new perspective on the arts in St. Louis.