28 Jul Fate of Chesterfield Arts in the balance over horse statues sale

Fans of custom bronze art from across the United States certainly have reason to pay attention to the latest developments in West St. Louis County, Missouri, where uncertainty surrounds the fate of cash-strapped Chesterfield Arts.

The organization is seeking to sell a pair of bronze horse statues on the Chesterfield City Hall campus to the city to raise the finance apparently necessary for its survival. However, this is far from certain to happen, with a final decision likely to be made by the City Council.

The full Council has been called upon by Council member Connie Fults to discuss Chesterfield Arts and the proposed sale of the statues at its August 4 meeting. It seems that this date will see a vote on whether the Council should continue providing financial support to Chesterfield Arts to keep the organization running.

According to City Administrator Mike Herring, officials at the organization intended to ask the city to buy its two San Marco II horse statues for a total of $250,000, despite an appraisal indicating their market value to be $950,000.

Herring commented: “They were offered to us for below market value to bolster Chesterfield Arts so it would not have to shut down next month.” He added that the organization was being forced to curtail its activities and sell off its assets to keep itself alive while seeking further financial support.

He said that the organization wanted “to get back up in business” but that in the meantime, its executive director Stacey Morse had resigned and it no longer had any staff.

Chesterfield Arts has existed for almost two decades, serving the West St. Louis County region with programming in the visual, performing and literary arts and access to arts information, in addition to promoting public art and arts education. Current funding sources include the city of Chesterfield, the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the Arts and Education Council and the Missouri Arts Council.

Despite Fults’ argument that every project or event by the organization had “brought people, advertisement, business and revenue into this city”, and that its demise “could and should be avoided by the expenditure of $250,000 or half of one percent of our city budget”, there was less support for the organization’s request from Mayor Bob Nation.

He commented: “I’m supportive of the arts in a reasonable, limited fashion. Most taxpayers appreciate the arts but feel that public assistance for arts needs to be limited. No one wants Chesterfield Arts to disband and go away. But they have no business plan whatsoever that’s been put forward so there would be credible evidence to consider.”

No doubt the arguments will continue as to what form – if any – Chesterfield Arts should take in the future to secure its survival. Certainly, here at Big Statues, as proponents of custom bronze art and the arts in general, we hope for a satisfactory resolution that will benefit the arts scene in West St. Louis County.

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