Saint Louis – The Arts & Culture Capital

    By: Amanda Honigfort, Special Programs Producer

    Saint Louis – Arts & Culture capital? Maybe not a popular sentiment, but there is more than enough happening in this city to keep anyone busy.

    At HEC, as the region’s foremost producer of arts, education and cultural content, we keep our eyes on the fantastic happenings in every corner of this city – from the big players such as the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, Peabody Opera House and the Fox; to smaller organizations such as Metro Theater Company, Mad Art Gallery, Bruno David, and more.

    September begins with the Japanese Festival at the Botanical Garden, and the Big Muddy Blues Festival on Laclede’s Landing. A week later the Repertory Theater kicks off its 51st season with The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Nighttime. And that only brings us to September 7th without including ongoing events!

    Also in September, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra will perform a free concert with fireworks at the base of Art Hill (Sept. 13), the Strange Folk Festival will highlight local artisans, a major music festival (Sept. 22-24), LouFest will be happening in Forest Park (Sept. 9 & 10), Shakespeare In the Streets will perform in front of the Central Library (Sept. 15-17), and the Saint Louis Art Fair will take over the streets of Clayton (Sept. 8-10). And these are just the big name events.

    You can find local musicians at Farmers Markets like Kirkwood or Tower Grove, hear and watch them record their new albums at the Gaslight Lounge and Recording Studio, or catch them at any number of our local venues like the Duck Room, Off Broadway, the Ready Room, or the Bootleg at Atomic Cowboy.

    Lunchtime Live continues downtown, and there are also the restaurants where musical performances are featured – Broadway Oyster Bar near Busch Stadium, Hammerstone’s in Soulard, BB’s Jazz Blues and Soups, Blues City Deli, Jazz at the Bistro, Stone Spiral Coffee in Maplewood and Tin Roof to name a few.

    Later September brings The Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and Balloon Race, South Grand’s Fall Fest, The Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival and the Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival in Soulard. It also introduces a new contender – Bookfest will spring to life in the Central West End on September 23.

    Then there are the ongoing events – hundreds of theater productions (Two On The Aisle can recommend a good show), First Fridays in the Grand Center Arts District or from the St. Louis Science Center, The Jazz Edge Orchestra’s monthly performances, Tuesday night swing dancing at Handlebar, SLAM Underground at the Saint Louis Art Museum and more.

    And the food – I’ve been [slowly] making my way through last March’s 100 Best Restaurants list from Ian Froeb at the Post-Dispatch and let me tell you – St. Louis has some excellent food (I’d particularly recommend Olio, Juniper, Olive & Oak, and Publico – though picking favorites is incredibly difficult).

    Our restaurants have gotten St. Louis some good press lately, with the buzz surrounding Vicia’s opening and the reports of a top-notch new chef at Nixita.

    By the way – did you hear how Nixita transforms to Bar Limon after 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for some festive Salsa and Latin dancing? Club Viva is another well-patronized salsa spot, and the Thaxton Speakeasy will take you back to the flapper culture of the 1920s.

    As a producer at a station that lives at the cross section of education and culture, I’d be remiss to not mention our wealth of museums. Of course there are the big ones in Forest Park – the Art Museum, Science Center, History Museum and Zoon – that all demand a visit (or many visits), but we also have a number of museums you may not have heard about.

    There’s the Eugene Field House & Museum where you learn about the noted children’s poet who began his life here, but was sent to out-of-town family when his father defended Dred & Harriet Scott. There’s the Scott Joplin House, the National Blues Museum, SLUMA, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, CAM, the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, the Chess Museum, The Old Court House, the Miniature Museum of Greater St. Louis and so many more than I could possibly mention here.

    Just outside of the city are Cahokia Mounds, the Missouri Civil War Museum, the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum, The Greater Air & Space Museum, Mastodon State Historic Site and Fort de Chartre – where Chateau set out to found St. Louis.

    Arts and culture can even come straight to you from the comfort of your couch. Tune into KMOV at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 3rd as they broadcast HEC’s Meet Me At The Fair documentary to see all the behind the scenes work that goes into building the Saint Louis Art Fair, and all the other programs the Art Fair staff manage throughout the community and throughout the year. HEC’s Meet Me At The Fair documentary will also be available at after September 3rd.

    Alternatively, if you do want to get out and see some culture in person, Scope will give you some good ideas – just subscribe to the program’s YouTube channel or check out on a regular basis.

    You may also enjoy learning how a Saint Louis University Professor is changing Irish history in True Gaelic – another documentary from HEC-TV. We’ll be premiering the documentary at a free event at the Center For Global Citizenship on SLU’s campus at 6:30 p.m. on September 28, but please RSVP at

    I’ve only scratched the surface of arts and culture in Saint Louis, but I hope you’ve found a few new favorites to add, or remembered others you’ve been meaning to check out. Whatever the case, I hope you join me in appreciating some of the events, festivals, museums and productions St. Louis has to offer this month.

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