To support club’s art programming; volunteers to work with kids year around
By ED FINKELSTEIN
The arts program for hundreds of young boys and girls that weekly attend the Gene Slay’s Boys’ (& now Girls) Club of St. Louis got a huge boost from Stagehands Local 6: an initial donation of $5,000 and a pledge of $5,000 each for the next two years, a total $15,000 commitment from the union.
“Realizing how effective the club is, and the need for more arts to be introduced to young people, Local 6 decided to focus a single annual donation to help promote the arts instead of making a lot of small donations to many different kinds of groups,” said Local 6 Business Manager Joe Rudd said in presenting the first $5,000 installment.
CONTINUING LABOR SUPPORT
“You’ve given our kids a unique opportunity they’ve never had,” said Executive Director Prescott Benson in thanking the union for their unique commitment to the club and its service to St. Louis’ youth. The Labor Movement is a staunch supporter of the club, both financially in terms of supporting its annual fund-raising golf tournament and with services to help the club.
For example, Operating Engineers Local 513 last year provided manpower and equipment to help build a community playground on the club’s grounds. Other unions over the years have also donated manpower for specific projects and participate in the club’s annual golf tournament major fundraiser.
This, however, is the first time a union has made such a long-term commitment.
MORE LOCAL 6 HELP COMING
Not only has Local 6 committed financial help, it has offered manpower to help young people see first hand how the union works to make the theater scene in St. Louis exciting and effective:
- Tickets: They hope to partner with local theatres and the business community to help provide tickets to live theatre productions for kids, many of whom have never seen a live stage performance.
- Backstage tours: Through the business partnerships that Local 6 has established, they would like to conduct backstage tours of theatres and/or event spaces, to give interested young people a more thorough understanding of show business and how exciting a career as a stagehand can be, building sets, rigging shows, etc.
- Volunteers: Have volunteer members come into the art classes to share with the kids their passion for the arts and how to build a sustainable career that fosters their love of the arts.
- Career: At some future time, consider providing a conduit program for anyone interested in a career in the arts as a profession that provides solid paychecks and benefits for a lifelong career.
“Too many schools are cutting arts programs which means kids don’t get a chance to see what the arts can do for them, from an education as well as career standpoint,” Rudd noted. “This will provide them a chance to see the industry close-up and personal.”
The union will form a special committee led by Local 6’s Annuity Trustee Kevin Whalen to work with the club to develop programs.
ARTS AND EDUCATION
Carrie Keasler, art teacher, explained how the club uses art and literacy as a package to help kids with their conceptual thinking and learning. This year they are studying how different cultures celebrate the arts and integrate them into their communities.
TO HELP THE KIDS
Gene Slay’s Boys’ (& now Girls) Club of St. Louis, located in the Soulard neighborhood, has and continues to improve the lives of at-risk, marginalized, and underserved youth by equipping them with the skills they need to make good choices and become successful adults.
The club’s professional and licensed staff and educators, through academics, athletics, individual enrichment and personal tutoring make permanent and positive changes in the lives of the children they serve.
“Every Club member has the potential for a bright future,” Benson said. “Our programs support that future and continue to produce individuals of integrity to serve our community.”
With a rich history in the St. Louis region within the arts and entertainment, education, trade show, and convention industries that reaches back more than a century, Stagehands Local 6 (an affiliate of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees International Union) is a trusted provider of technical expertise and skilled labor in all aspects of scenic, lighting, audio, video, properties, and rigging.
Whether it’s a Broadway show, a corporate meeting, concert, or trade show, indoors or out, customers and potential customers turn to Local 6 to help stage their event. Local 6 members are trained and dedicated to the practice of the safest and best industry standards, Rudd stressed.
Girls are now part of Gene Slay’s Boys’ Club
With 86 years of history serving young boys between the ages of 6 - 18 basically in South St. Louis but throughout the region, the Gene Slay’s Boys’ Club of St. Louis, 2524 S. 11th St., is now enrolling girls as active club members.
A new name for the club is now being discussed by the board of directors.
The club began a pilot program in 2011 with local schools that was overwhelmingly accepted and continued to grow.
Because of the success of girls in club activities, and the need for more girls’ facilities and activities throughout the South side community, in 2015 renovations approved earlier by the executive board were completed to include new girl’s bathrooms and lounge.
The club now has 40 girls for its after-school programs and 60 for its summer programs, serving girls 6-11 years old in grades 1-5.