The Monsanto Fund and the Arts and Education Council Award $20,000 in Grants to Rural Communities

St. Louis, Mo. – The Monsanto Fund, in collaboration with the Arts and Education Council, has awarded $20,000 in grants to ten arts and arts education programs dedicated to bringing artists and entertainers into the classrooms and performance venues of the region's rural communities. Thanks to the generous support of the Monsanto Fund, people living in the counties and rural communities surrounding the St. Louis metropolitan area have the opportunity to enjoy quality arts and cultural performances and programming, ensuring that the arts remain accessible to all.

"The funds from the Monsanto Rural Community Arts Education Program are invaluable to these communities, providing them with access to arts and cultural events and programming that may otherwise go unfunded. The Arts and Education Council is proud to collaborate with the Monsanto Fund on this grant opportunity," said Cynthia A. Prost, president of the Arts and Education Council.

With these grants, the Monsanto Fund and the Arts and Education Council will provide direct support to arts and arts education projects whose reach extends to rural communities within the bi-state, 16-county St. Louis area, bringing lif-enriching arts experiences and opportunities to children, teens and adults, including at-risk, disadvantaged, economically-challenged and underserved populations.

"The Monsanto Fund is pleased to collaborate with the Arts and Education Council to provide cultural experiences and quality arts education to students in rural communities, where many area farmers live," said Deborah Patterson, president, the Monsanto Fund. "We believe in supporting farm families and in providing unique educational opportunities to students in these communities."

2012 Monsanto Rural Community Arts Education Program Grantees

Gateway Center for the Arts – Located in Washington, Missouri, the Gateway Center for the Arts, a community–based organization, offers individuals of all ages, abilities and socio–economic status the opportunity to participate in the visual and performing arts.

The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts – The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, is fast becoming the premier performing arts venue in the Metro East. The Hett strives to nurture creative and critical thinking by exposing students and the greater Southern Illinois community to influential, diverse and innovative artists and speakers.

Highland Arts Council – The Highland Arts Council in Highland, Illinois, actively promotes the arts in and around the community of Highland through a variety of activities and projects. The Council provides a showcase for local artists and an educational opportunity for many members of the community to be exposed to the arts.

Jacoby Arts Center – The Jacoby Arts Center located in Alton, Illinois, fosters the artistic development and economic success of artists and expands accessibility to the arts through programs that promote education, participation and exploration. One of their annual events is ARTEAST where over 150 working artists in a wide range of disciplines including collage, painting, ceramics, photography, printmaking, sculpture, glass and digital media show their work and demonstrate their craft.

Looking Glass Playhouse – The Looking Glass Playhouse, taken from the Looking Glass Prairie, which lies to the east of Lebanon and was mentioned in Charles Dickens' book, American Notes. Since 1972, the volunteers, casts, crews and audiences have remained dedicated to the core concepts of community involvement and to continuing efforts to broaden the awareness of the arts in southern Illinois.

O'Fallon Arts Commission – The Arts Commission in O'Fallon, Illinois, was established to promote and encourage public programs; to further the development and public awareness of and interest in the fine and performing arts; to facilitate the identification and preservation of the cultural heritage of the city; and to act in an advisory capacity to the city in connection with the artistic and cultural development of the city.

Raintree Arts Council – The Raintree Arts Council is a community arts organization serving Pike and Lincoln Counties in east central Missouri. The Council believes that the arts enhance self–expression, self–confidence, and provide opportunities to celebrate who they are as a community. The Council creates programs and services that provide experiences for every person to be able to participate and experience the arts. Many of these programs are held in the Apple Shed that the Council owns and operates.

Strange Folk Festival – Strange Folk Festival is the heartland's largest outdoor indie arts and craft show. Featuring 150 vendors from across the country along with plenty of eco–friendly craft activities, exhibits, live bands and local cuisine under a canopy of beautiful trees! Over 15,000 folks attended in 2011 and Strange Folk was declared "Best of 2008" in the craft show category by The Riverfront Times.

Sullivan Patrons of the Arts – Located in Sullivan, Missouri, the mission of the Sullivan Patrons of the Arts is to support and promote the visual, fine, and performing arts in the community, to increase the cultural opportunities in the area, and to provide scholarships and other opportunities to local youth and area artists.

Warren County Fine Arts Council – The Council's mission is to provide all of the citizens of Warren County, Missouri, with the opportunity to experience a variety of arts both in schools and throughout the community.

Arts and Education Council – Since 1963, the Arts and Education Council has raised over $100 million in private funding for the arts – an important task that directly affects the quality of life of our region. With those funds, A&E annually assists nearly 70 nonprofit arts and arts education organizations. Additionally, A&E provides office, rehearsal and performance space for 18 arts nonprofit organizations in the Centene Center for Arts and Education, a unique arts incubator located in Grand Center. Visit KeepArtHappening.org or call 314.289.4000 for more information.

The Monsanto Fund – The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a not–for–profit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at www.monsantofund.org.