Bread and Roses Missouri enters 2022 with resilience, growth and momentum achieved thanks to the commitment of our supporters, staff, actors and artists to our mission to use an arts lens to examine social and economic justice issues in all our programming.
This retrospective reminds us of the power of cultural and creative expression as a means to effect deep and lasting change.
Building Capacity Now and for the Future
Expert-facilitated training sessions and mentorship resources will continue to strengthen our artistic and financial planning, fundraising, governance, board engagement and marketing practices. Through 2021, board members and staff engaged in the Regional Arts Commission’s Capacity Building: St. Louis program. This continues in 2022, along with the resources delivered to our organization, board and staff through the Network for Strong Communities’ Capacity Building Scholarship.
Kicking Off 2021 with the Bootheel Strike
The Workers’ Theater actors presented Then, and Now Again: The Boot Heel Strike, connecting past and current struggles against the privileged white power structure. The production dramatizes this seminal event in civil rights history when black and white tenant farmers stood in solidarity.
Establishing the Joan Suarez Director’s Fund
As the Executive Director position transitioned from founder Joan Suarez to our new Executive Director, Elyse Mac, we inaugurated the Joan Suarez Director’s Fund to honor Joan’s legacy. The fund serves as a catalyst to provide resources for the continued development of relevant, original works for the Youth Initiative and Workers’ Theater, and original works, such as the commissioned production of Mrs. Palmer’s Honey. Joan continues as Director Emeritus and Co-Chair with Gwen Moore of our newly established Council of Advisors.
Empowering Youth through Art
An outstanding team of teaching artists safely conducted the return of the Youth Initiative, empowering over 60 youth from primarily immigrant and refugee families as agents for social change through the arts. Luisa Otero Prada will continue as our year-round Youth Coordinator through 2022, thanks to the St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund Grassroots Organization Grant Program.
Inspiring Performance, Music and Visual Art
This summer, we recorded our first ever radio drama, Mrs. Palmer’s Honey. The play was written by Cassandra Medley, based on the 1946 novel by St. Louisan Fannie Cook, which won the George Washington Carver Award from the NAACP. Under the direction of Kathryn Bentley, Mrs. Palmer’s Honey will be coming to a radio station or podcast near you in 2022. The story of Honey inspired the production of Closer Still: The Music of Mrs. Palmer’s Honey, an album of original music composed by Colin McLaughlin, and the commissioning of artist Bahrat Anjari to produce the visual art that accompanies the work.
Recording Video Performances
Last fall, the Workers’ Theater ensemble produced our first-ever video productions under the direction of nationally recognized performer Kelsey Robinson, workers-turned-actors wrote and recorded The Capitalist Pig Podcast, a satirical take on right-wing talk radio and a commentary on the greed of the 1%. Georgia Brown-Moore, Michael Paplanus and Larry Shelton also recorded artist statements about the positive impact of their art, for themselves and those they touch. The virtual Workers’ Opera is brought to you by CALOP Foundation and John and Carolyn Peterson Family Foundation. Watch for links in January 2022!
Closing the Year on a High Note
In November, we safely hosted our most successful fundraiser yet, A Taste of Honey, presented by LiUNA (Laborers’) Local 110 and honoring social justice champions Gwen Moore, Curator of Urban Landscape and Community Identity of the Missouri Historical Society, and Shannon Duffy, Business Representative of the United Media Guild, a CWA Affiliate. The fundraiser exceeded our goals and helps us continue to empower working-class St. Louis families through the arts.
Watch this highlights video – our thank you to our supporters and performers for the magical – and safe – evening of music and art enjoyed by nearly 200 supporters live and streamed over the internet.
Getting Ready for More ACTION
In December, actors performed a staged reading of Action written by Colin McLaughlin and directed by Gaby Rodriguez. This poignant play describes the inspiring activism of St. Louis native, Percy Green II and a group of activists who founded ACTION (Action Council To Improve Opportunities for Negroes) in the 1960s. The event is sponsored by Arts and Education Council – St. Louis and Missouri Humanities Council, and is produced by Bread and Roses Missouri. The full production will premiere in December of 2022, directed by Kathryn Bentley, self-produced, in partnership, with Midwest Artist Project Services – MAPS and The Divided City, Washington University in St. Louis.
Making 2022 Another Year of Positive Impact
Keep our momentum going and help us continue to support the artists, activists and youth of Bread and Roses Missouri. Here’s how
Purchase the Closer Still album on Bandcamp
Make a one-time donation via our PayPal Giving Fund
Become a monthly supporter
Your contribution will build on the momentum of 2021 to powering arts and activism in the new year.