Spotlight on Artists First

Mar 27, 2020 | Member Spotlight

 

 

Sheila Suderwalla, MSW Executive Director
781-4440
sheila@artistsfirststl.org
www.artistsfirststl.org/

Artists First is a nonprofit, inclusive art studio where everyone belongs. We empower artists of all abilities through multimedia creative self-expression. The mission of Artists First is two-fold: To foster meaningful personal growth in individuals through creative self-expression, and to enrich the community through initiatives that promote art, acceptance, and empowerment. The diverse Artists First community includes those with disabilities, veterans reintegrating into society, youth who experience toxic stress and adults with memory loss. Annually we directly serve over 225 individuals in our studio, over 15 community agencies and a wide variety of schools in St. Louis City and County. In addition to active participation annually in over 45 community events, we love to participate and provide community art for all to enjoy like the Piano in Sutton Loop Park or the Yale bus stop in Maplewood.

We believe that art is a universal language that brings people together and initiates and furthers social change. In addition to local businesses and the Maplewood Library exhibiting our artists’ works, we share our art at community events. Unfortunately, during this present time of uncertainty all events that help support our nonprofit financially have been cancelled, in addition to our programs in the studio. Our artists, some being our most vulnerable community members, depend on us more than ever. We continue to serve as a safety net; we are providing specific creative self-expression activities to help with anxiety and social isolation and we are collecting canned goods and hygiene supplies to support our artists that do not have the means. To see how you can help, what community resources are available and or to see examples of our virtual art facilitation visit www.artistsfirststl.org

An exciting improvement to the field is that funders have now started demanding that services be totally inclusive. Our mission and existence is based on the unflinching belief in the imperativeness of diversity in all forms, equity and inclusion for all. Although the awards ceremony on March 31st has been postponed, the Governor’s Council on Disability Named Artists First the 2019 Inclusion Annual Award Winner. Artists First is honored to be recognized by the Governor’s Council on Disability as “exemplifying standards of excellence in enhancing life for individuals living with disabilities.”

 

Chamber Talk

Membership in the Chamber provides opportunities to be a part of our community. The Chamber helps build community in the truest sense.

Artists First is grateful to the many businesses (over 18) in Maplewood that have supported us through the years. It is with community support that our nonprofit is able to make a creative difference. At this point in time, ALL Maplewood/Richmond Heights entities are my favorite and I sincerely hope that we all survive what we are currently faced with. When life returns to the usual, I will be at one of my favorite places (besides Artists First) — Schlafly Bottleworks – the staff and customers have been good friends to Artists First – it is another example of the power of community