St. Louis ArtWorks

St. Louis ArtWorks | in-depth art instruction, employment training, and 21st-century life skills

We strengthen Missouri education through the arts:by direct funding, partnering with others, and programming.

The Missouri Arts Council has long recognized the value of a strong arts education and the corresponding impact on the state: better educated students, more effective workforce, and economically vital communities. Unlike many other states in the U.S., Missouri has consistently maintained requirements for students to study and experience the fine arts in its public schools. With this in mind, the Missouri Arts Council’s grants for Arts Education support exposure to the arts, discipline-specific sequential learning in the arts, and the integration of the arts with other classroom subjects.

Our Arts Education program extends beyond these grants through partnerships with the  Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the  Missouri Alliance for Arts Education. Resources are committed to strengthen the position and impact of fine arts specialists, improve student achievement through arts integration, develop teaching artist’s skills and opportunities, and support the development of quality community arts education.

Artist in residence sculptor Sandy Cline

Strengthening the position and impact of fine arts specialists

Visual arts integrating with mathematics

Improving student achievement through arts integration

Teaching artist Sergei Shapoval

Developing teaching artists’ skills and opportunities


The Missouri Arts Council offers three different grant programs for K-12 schools: the Big Yellow School Bus Grants, the Touring Express Grants, and the Express and Annual Arts Education Program Grants. Schools are limited to receiving three grants, one from each category, within the fiscal year of July 1-June 30. For details about each type of grant, start with  our Arts Education Grants page.

For assistance, contact Jenni Ryan, arts education specialist. | 314-340-6857 | toll free 866-407-4752 |


The Missouri Arts Council has long recognized the value of a strong arts education, and the corresponding impact on the state: better educated students, a more effective work­force, and economically vital communities.

The  Missouri Alliance for Arts Education, with the assistance of the  Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the support of the Missouri Arts Council, has created two studies that analyze the relationships in Missouri school districts between student participation in fine arts courses (music, visual art, theater/drama, and dance) and attendance and graduation rates, disciplinary infractions, and statewide tests in language arts and mathematics in the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP). The first study was published in 2010:  Arts Education Makes a Difference in Missouri Schools.  The follow-up was published in 2015: Arts Education STILL Makes a Difference in Missouri Schools. 

You can download the complete studies as 32-page PDFS and the key findings in two-page summaries.

The reports reflect our unequivocal belief: every child benefits from art in their education.

Our partnership with the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education in funding this study is a key part of understanding the public value of the arts in our society. Appreciating and supporting the arts in general benefits from graduating students with nec­essary critical and creative skills. We know that adults that have encountered the arts as youth are more likely to engage with the arts as adults. Pablo Picasso recognized the challenge when he said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

These reports underscore, once again, the unique and complex benefits of the arts.


Since its founding in 1995, Arts Education Partnership (AEP) has become the primary forum and meeting ground for organizations to explore how the arts can transform American education. AEP publishes research and advocacy materials supporting the role of arts education in schools. AEP’s  ArtScan is a searchable clearinghouse of the latest arts education policies from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. |

The Missouri Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) is a non-profit organization representing arts education organizations and private citizens and companies that support arts education in our schools. MAAE provides professional development for teachers, sponsors and commissions research into the effectiveness of arts education, and promotes public awareness of the importance of the arts in every school for every child. The highlight of MAAE’s calendar is Fine Arts Education Day at the State Capitol each spring, during which MAAE partners with the Missouri School Boards’ Association and member organizations to recognize outstanding teachers, schools, and school districts with a variety of Arts Education Awards. |

Missouri Citizens for the Arts (MCA) is the statewide grassroots advocacy organization that promotes the arts to elected officials and public agencies whose actions affect the arts. MCA sponsors the annual Citizens’ Day at the Legislature in Jefferson City, where Missourians meet with legislators to discuss the importance of the arts in the state. |

A state agency, the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) strives to assure that all citizens have access to high-quality public education, ranging from early childhood to adult education services. |

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has established Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) for music, theatre, and visual arts content that Missouri students are expected to know at each grade level K-12. |

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) is an alliance of national arts and arts education organizations: Americans for the Arts, American Alliance for Theatre and Education, Educational Theatre Association, National Art Education Association, National Association for Music Education, National Dance Education Organization, State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education, Young Audiences Arts for Learning, and the NCCAS Media Arts Committee. Created in 2014, NCCAS’s voluntary National Core Arts Standards for preK-12 dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts describe what students should know and be able to do as a result of a quality curricular arts education program. |

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)  is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts–both new and established–bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, NEA is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. |