The idea of an Arts council in St. James has been floating around the community for some time, and this Saturday, April 15, there will be a meeting at the James Public Library at 10 a.m. to gain traction and hopefully get the council started.

The idea of an Arts council in St. James has been floating around the community for some time, and this Saturday, April 15, there will be a meeting at the James Public Library at 10 a.m. to gain traction and hopefully get the council started. This ongoing push for an Arts council is headed by St. James resident Shannon Engelbrecht, who works as an Art teacher in Rolla.

As the past President of the Missouri Art Education Association, Shannon said she has the leadership experience and knowledge to “put things right where we think we need them to be for the Arts council.” Shannon has held on to the idea of starting the council for several years, and this Saturday will mark an important step for her and the rest of the local residents involved in making it happen.

“I got [the idea] started last year when I was talking with some neighbors,” said Shannon. “I told them I really wished we could do something in St. James.”

Shannon got in touch with other Arts councils from around the area, such as Steelville, to learn how they operated within their communities. Unfortunately, Shannon had to put her plans on hold after some health issues came to light.

Now Shannon is ready to continue, reaching out to these councils as well as the Missouri Alliance for Art Education and the Missouri Arts Council Association. The meeting this Saturday will be for interested individuals to come and learn more about the proposed council, as well as share their vision for what they believe an Arts council should be for St. James.

“We hope to have this be more of a team leadership, rather than a President, treasurer, secretary setup,” Shannon said. “We want this be the group working on this so the leadership will keep growing.”

Shannon has already been brainstorming with other individuals about what sorts of activities the council could sponsor, and is eager to hear more ideas from the community.

“We talked about having an annual art walk, setting up artists with the local food and vendors,” said Shannon. She also mentioned having different competitions for the community, where participants will be organized by age groups to compete while encouraging each other to create art.

“It could be music, theatre, fine arts or dance,” said Shannon. “It doesn’t have to just be the visual arts.”

Further options for the council included sponsoring First Fridays each month, encouraging residents to get out and enjoy the town, as well as welcoming out of town visitors to see what St. James has to offer. Shannon explained that sponsoring and encouraging the arts in any way is an important factor to any town.

“I just feel likes it’s this creative release,” said Shannon. “My family is very interested in sports, and we have this amazing venue for sports in St. James. I feel like there’s a lot of people behind the scenes that make art or perform, and if we can have this community that can come together and celebrate our passions for the arts, it could be a very rich community.”

Shannon welcomes anyone who is interested to come to the meeting this Saturday at 10 a.m., no matter their age or background.

“I want them to be all walks of life, they could be high schoolers, young twenties to midlife, and older, seasoned veterans of our community,” she said. “I want them to be people who might be interested in taking some of the leadership roles, because later on we might have some of the artists who want to come along and get involved in the activities.”

Those who create or enjoy art, no matter its form, are welcome and encouraged to attend the meeting to share their vision and lend their support.