Artists First

aka Artists First   |   Maplewood, MO   |  http://www.artistsfirststl.org

Mission

Artists First’s mission is to foster growth in adults with disabilities, youth, Veterans and elders with memory loss through creative self-expression, while enriching our community through initiatives that prom​ote art and create acceptance and empowerment. ​

Ruling year info

2012

Executive Director

Ms. Sheila Suderwalla

Main address

7190 Manchester Road

Maplewood, MO 63143 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Turner Center for the Arts

EIN

45-2874353

NTEE code info

Developmentally Disabled Services/Centers (P82)

Visual Arts Organizations (A40)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Artists First uses a creative approach that allows for genuine community integration and is in response to community needs specifically of equity and equality. Artists First addresses the social issue of equity not only distinct to St. Louis, but prevalent nationally. Artists First’s Open Studio program and community initiatives address cultural and economic segregation while bringing together diverse individuals. Artists First uses the visual arts as a way to meet inequities specifically with disenfranchised populations. Artists First is open to all however we do focus on under served populations including individuals with disabilities, veterans, youth and elders with memory loss.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Adult Open Studio

The Adult Open Studio fosters independence through creative self-expression for adults with pervasive mental illness, developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury. The purpose of the program is to give people with disabilities the opportunity to access, explore, and grow through experimentation with a myriad of art forms.
With varying levels of supervision depending on the individual needs of the artists, Artists First staff and volunteers promote participants' self-esteem through their independent use of materials, exploration of the world of creating art, and socialization with their peers. Artists First staff and volunteers provide nurturing, structured artistic direction resulting in tremendous growth in our artists
Artists First curates and hosts quarterly art exhibitions highlighting the talents of Artists First participants. Featuring artists' works in community forums helps dismantle stereotypes of the disabled population while giving artists the chance to fully participate in the increasingly vibrant arts community in Saint Louis.

Population(s) Served

The Integrated Youth Open-Studio is a weekly program for youth with and without disabilities. Under the tutelage of professional artists, students explore their creativity while developing interpersonal communication skills and character development. Young artists are given total access to the studio to explore and experiment with different mediums as they begin to find their own unique vision and voice. Not only are youth creating art but they are enhancing their communication and interpersonal skills though contact with their peers, Artists First staff and volunteers. The Youth Open Studio encourages a greater sense of self-worth and self-reliance for the participants. Moreover, the Integrated Open Youth Studio encourages empathy and compassion building for participants without disabilities as they are witnessing first-hand the challenges that those with disabilities face on a daily basis.

Population(s) Served

Lifeworks, supported by the St. Louis
Office for Developmental Disabilities, is a
program tailored to professionally
minded artists with developmental
disabilities to reach their greatest
potential in employment, social,
emotional, and physical domains through
the arts.

Population(s) Served

Artists First for Veterans is a nontraditional creative support program for veterans that supports the development of positive self-identity, self-expression and community re-integration. We have seen firsthand the healing affects art can have on individuals with a variety of needs such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and brain injury as well as for individuals who require a supportive outlet to process their unique experiences and personal stories. Having full access to the studio stocked with professional art supplies, veterans can choose what they want to express and create. If needed, structured creative projects will be prepared specifically for veterans.

Population(s) Served

Artists First has partnered with the evidence based program Opening Minds Through Art (OMA). Opening Minds Through Art (OMA) was founded by Dr. Elizabeth “Like” Lokon in 2007 and is grounded in person-centered care principles. It is headquartered at Scripps Gerontology Center, an Ohio Center of Excellence at Miami University. OMA is an intergenerational visual art program for people with memory loss. OMA participants create works of art on a weekly basis, while paired with volunteers who are trained to rely on imagination instead of memory and focus on remaining strengths instead of lost skills. OMA enables people with dementia to assume new roles as artists and teachers and leave a legacy of beautiful artwork. The art projects are failure-free, and allows participants to show others the creative self -expression capacities of people with dementia. An exhibit highlighting the participants work is held at the end of the 8-week session. The program at Artists First is offered with the support of the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Missouri Chapter and Maryville University.

Population(s) Served

Healing Trauma of Isms is a trauma and culturally informed, strengths based creative self-expression curriculum to aid individuals heal from the negative effects of experiencing racism and other forms of oppression. The program is specifically designed to address the trauma and grief endured by those who have been discriminated against and who have been exposed to intersectional oppression. The intent of the program is healing and empowerment by providing a safe and supportive space using specific creative self-expression activities to address intersectionality based trauma and to address subsequent health inequities and to heal.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Accreditations

Editor's Choice Award Best Open Studio - St. Louis Magazine 2017

Awards

Editor's Choice Award Best Open Studio 2017

Saint Louis Magazine

Inclusion Award 2019

Governor's Council on Disability

Affiliations & memberships

Americans for the Arts 2017

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of works on loan to others

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Adult Open Studio

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Average number of service recipients per month

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Adult Open Studio

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Artists First directly serves over 225 individuals annually in addition to over 13 groups, two school districts, 4 universities and participates in over 40 community events a year

Number of works exhibited temporarily

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Adult Open Studio

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Hours of expertise provided

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Adult Open Studio

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of treatment and support plans revised within specified timeframes

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Lifeworks

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Client centered support plans are completed bi annually.

Number of veterans with PTSD served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Artists First for Veterans

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our values reflect our vision.

A acceptance of all people, to encourage growth.
R respect for all people to promote community.
T Trust gained from integrity and inspiration.

Artists First aims to strengthen and expand programs that serve disenfranchised individuals using creative self-expression.

The Open Studio Program is an especially unique, multifaceted community resource that provides economic opportunities, fosters self-sufficiency and promotes cultural / artistic enrichment in the community. The Open Studio has 5 components: The Adult Open Studio provides adults with disabilities with professional supplies and technical facilitation by specialized staff. Youth in the Youth Open Studio create artistic pieces while exchanging cultural values and ideas. Lifeworks is a customized-supported employment program that provides professionally-minded artists with disabilities the opportunity to pursue and build careers in art. Artists First for Veterans supports the development of positive self-identity, self-expression and community reintegration through the arts for current and former Armed Service members. Opening Minds Through Art (OMA) is an evidence based art program serving adults with dementia. In addition to the Open Studio program, Artists First brings art into the community and beyond as a means of integration, healing, support, working together, and finding common ground.

Assessing what works and what does not work is a constant exercise for the Board of Directors and staff. Data collection including benchmarking numbers, social media analytics, annual survey results, volume of sales and demographics of artists served all aid in the evaluation that Artists First engages in. Using metrics and artists’ feedback, Artists First is able to make well informed program decisions. With artists input, Artists First’s Board of Directors and staff created and follow a 3-year strategic plan including studio, fundraising, marketing and program goals.s First is able to make well informed program decisions.

Artists First is fortunate to have wide and dedicated community support from volunteers to companies who donate services. The organization's strengths include first and foremost the artists we serve, a dedicated staff, a diverse Board of Directors who ensure integrity in all that the organization does. Inclusiveness, diversity and representation are important elements to Artists First from committee structure to program development and implementation. The Board of Directors is comprised of community stake holders including caregivers of individuals with disabilities, artists and others who share the mission of Artists First.

Artists First has successfully completed and is implementing a strategic 3 year organizational plan.
Artists First has been successfully with initiating diversified funding sources.
Artists First has been successfully with maintaining a 99% retention rate.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Healing Trauma of Isms is a program dessigned in response to experiences of clients who have endured community racism and discrimination.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

Artists First
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Artists First

Board of directors
as of 11/5/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Anne Holin

Artists First

Term: 2016 - 2019


Board co-chair

Jimauria Evans

Steven Zegel

Nancy Newman Rice

Anne Hollin

Jimoria Evans

Audrey Jones

Robert Powell

John Orbe

Neil Suthar

Kevin Fann

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/05/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Asian American/Pacific Islanders/Asian
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/05/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.