Arts, Culture & Education

Education quality at the K-12 level was expressed as a primary concern at all of the community planning area meetings. In the baseline telephone survey conducted in November 2011, education was also mentioned as a top priority by a majority of survey respondents. Nearly all respondents considered it extremely important for all residents of the St. Louis region to have access to high quality public education for kindergarten through 12th grade. When asked to pick a top priority in the field of public services, a majority selected high quality public education as the most important goal.

An April 2013 Gallup Survey reports that 74% of citizens of the region feel safe walking alone at night in the area where they live. This statistic puts greater St. Louis as the 14th safest metro area on the list of the 50 most populous MSA’s in the country.

As noted in the economy section, there is a clear relationship between educational attainment and earnings. The quality of schools also ranks as a significant factor when families choose where to live, and therefore plays a central role in neighborhood stability, property values and municipal fiscal capacity.

Recent developments have heightened concern over the state of public education in the St. Louis area. Educators in both Missouri and Illinois have sounded alarms over inadequate state funding for public schools. And several school districts in the region have faced deaccreditation in recent years. As a result, improving education services has become a priority for local government and business leaders, as well as for families and educators.

The St. Louis Regional Chamber has made increasing the number of college graduates in the region a top priority. According to the Chamber, a one percent increase in college and advanced degrees leads to a $2.4 billion annual increase in regional incomes. The region is fortunate to have 49 degree-granting institutions serving approximately 200,000 students at any one time. Providing employment opportunities to keep these locally educated adults in the region is one way to work toward this goal. Another piece of the puzzle is to provide assistance to working adults with some college access. Twilight Tuesday
Twilight Tuesday concert series at the Missouri History Museum.
By providing flexibility and financial incentives, employers can help these individuals finish their degrees.

St. Louis also has an active, well respected, and highly recognized philanthropic community.9 St. Louis ranks ninth among the top 30 U.S. metropolitan areas for philanthropy, according to a study compiled by Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that evaluates charities. The top three priority giving areas for foundations in the Midwest are human services, education, and arts and culture.10 In St. Louis in particular, arts and cultural philanthropists, foundations, museums, and public/private partnerships are often cited as world class and unmatched. Our assets and community of giving are very robust and well rounded, particularly for a region of our size and location. With numerous arts, history, music, theatre, and dance organizations along with our leading parks system, and admired Zoo-Museum District, the St. Louis region boasts an impressive array of arts and cultural amenities.

The benchmark Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study of the arts and culture industry’s impact on the economy demonstrates how arts and cultural organizations leverage additional event-related spending by their audiences. Nationally in 2010, arts and cultural event attendees spent an average of $24.60 in addition to the event admission price. Nationally in 2010, arts and cultural event attendees spent an average of $24.60 in addition to the event admission price. According to the study, the St. Louis region is commensurate with the national measures.

The St. Louis region is fortunate to have such a wealth of leading cultural and educational institutions, which forms a significant part of its collective identity and contributes to the overall quality of life. Second only to Washington, DC,11 the region offers the most free museums, cultural institutions, and attractions in the country. Entrance fees at many of these institutions are partially or fully subsidized through taxes collected by the Zoo-Museum District in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. However, movement of the region’s population out of the Zoo-Museum District boundaries threatens the financial base of these institutions.