Bread and Roses Missouri amplifies and elevates the stories of working people through art, performance, and activism. We believe that cultural and creative expression are a means to effect deep and lasting social change.
As the labor hymn for which the organization is named reminds us, “Hearts starve as well as bodies…give us bread and give us roses.”
At Bread and Roses Missouri we organize and produce arts and humanities events, exhibits and workshops for and about workers and their families.Bread and Roses Missouri believes that cultural and creative expression are a means to effect deep and lasting social change. We strive to empower participants and educate audiences. Through the arts we envision a world that achieves an economic base benefitting the entire community.
We hope you will join us. Support our work that supports workers!
Major Funders & Supporters
Born as a project of Missouri Jobs with Justice (MO JwJ), Bread and Roses united community activists and union members with an art exhibit in 2003 that spurred dialogue around social justice themes.
Sixty artists submitted work for the first art exhibit, many of them union members and community activists that had not shared their artistic talents so publicly before. One of the most exciting parts of developing the exhibit was the participation of many non-traditional artists – a house painter who takes photos, a postal worker who writes music, single mothers who were facing Medicaid cuts, victims of police violence, factory workers who had lost their jobs overseas.
As a leader in Missouri JwJ, Joan Suarez continued to develop the Bread and Roses project and lead its establishment as an independent non-profit in 2015. Under her leadership, Bread and Roses Missouri built their Youth Initiative and the Workers’ Theater Project, including The Workers’ Opera. On this foundation of arts and activism, Bread and Roses Missouri has built strong momentum.
Joan Suarez is now Founder Emeritus, and in early 2022, Bread and Roses added its first full-time Executive Director, Emily Kohring, and a Youth Programs Coordinator, Luisa Otero Prada.
We are making a significant, positive impact in our communities today.
The Workers’ Opera is like therapy for me. It gives me the balance I need to be able to use my creative gift and connect with social issues in my community.
Actor and Teaching Artist
In my work with Bread and Roses, performing poetry with Saint Louis Story Stitchers, as Saint Louis Poetry Ambassador and as a published author, I offer my authentic self to uplift affected communities and invite them on a journey of self-discovery. It’s exciting to see where it will take us!
Poet, Activist and Actor
As a member of Workers’ Theater, my artistic expression is informed by my job as a union shop steward of the Communication Workers of America, Local 6300 and active Organizing and Legislative Committee member. My first venture into theater was when I joined the Bread and Roses Workers’ Theater Company in 2016, and it was thrilling to perform in the role of Jenkins in Jailbird, an original play about social justice hero, Eugene Debs.
Actor and CWA Local 6300 Member
I have drawn and painted since I was a child. I would draw in phone books such as the white pages and on cardboard boxes. I have always been fascinated with faces and used the funnies from the newspapers as my studies. But this is my very first acting gig, and I am loving it! I credit my artistic gifts to my earthly father and to the creator of the Universe.
Visual Artist and Actor
As a young person, I was strongly encouraged to study the sciences. But, you cannot take the artist out of the person, no matter how hard you try. At Bread and Roses we invest in finding – and bringing out – the artist in everyone who is involved in our programs. Watching them express their dignity and aspirations is extremely rewarding.
Supporter and Teaching Artist
My earliest experience with Bread and Roses was attending the first Workers’ Opera performance directed by Agnes Wilcox and Freeman Word for a few dozen people in the basement of a church. It was a small group and new troupe of actors. It was raw. It was powerful.
Soon enough, I realized that being a member of the board opened a path for me to both give my support – and gain something I was looking for: the opportunity to directly influence hearts and minds.
Now our performances reach hundreds at a time – and thousands in the course of the year. We are making a big impact on important social justice issues through the arts.
Supporter and Board Member
Working with Bread and Roses Missouri has opened my life to creative possibilities as a playright, musician and actor. But more importantly, it has given me a family of artists, actors and supporters that are laser-focused on social change. This is important work and work I love.
Music Director and Collective Writing Facilitator
As a very happy Black woman, I’m trying to help make a way so my grandchildren can have a better chance of getting a good-paying job with a union to represent them. I joined the Workers’ Theater Company in August 2016. After that first theatrical experience, my goal was to be part of the next production, and here I am still!
Actor and SEIU Local One Member
At Bread and Roses Missouri we rely on our donors, funders and sponsors to support the events, workshops, exhibits and performances that give voice to the struggles of working class people. Fair compensation for labor is a core value and we are proud that we pay every teaching artist, creative and performer that works with us. Art IS labor, and it is work that deserves fair compensation.
We invite you to join us in creating arts and humanities experiences that make a tangible difference in the lives of working families.
To donate by check:
Bread and Roses Missouri
5585 Pershing Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63112
To offer an in-kind gift or find out how to sponsor an upcoming Bread and Roses MO event, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org