In the early 1960s, Helen McNally, a woman dedicated to promoting the arts in Kirkwood, founded a group called the Kirkwood Arts Council. The mayor of Kirkwood formally appointed the council and it opereated for a period of some years before disbanding.
Kirkwood Mayor Michael Swoboda appointed members to the Kirkwood Arts & Letters Commission in November 2001, which became the Kirkwood Arts & Letters Committee (KALC) in May 2002.
Other activities in 2001 include:
- The Farmer’s Market Fine Art Show, to promote area artists;
- participation of groups at the Greentree Festival;
- the first Kirkwood Cultural Calendar;
- a picnic concert at the Marianist Galleries.
In 2003, KALC broadened its horizons to include the five communities of Des Peres, Glendale, Kirkwood, Oakland and Warson Woods. The group also adopted a new name to fit this expansion – the Kirkwood Area Arts Resource Team (KART). Agnes Garino became the organization’s first president and lead the new team’s first project sponsoring the Kirkwood Sesquicentennial Poster Contest. Copies of the winning artist’s poster were printed and sold to support KART activities. The SLCC-Meramec Art Gallery hosted an exhibition of the poster entries.
Other activities in 2003 include:
- Making Music in the Moonlight concert series began with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra ensembles playing the initial concert;
- participation in Greentree Festival with displays and demonstrations by local artists;
- publication of the quarterly Kirkwood Area Cultural Calendar;
- development of a plan for Kirkwood Art Express in collaboration with MLP Station Plaza developers, the Special Business District and Kirkwood area schools.
By 2004, KART obtained 501c3 status as a not-for-profit organization. During its first annual meeting in March at the historical Kirkwood Train Depot KART announced its first membership drive and signed its first charter member.
Other activities in 2004 include:
- The second annual Making Music in the Moonlight concert series in Kirkwood Park;
- increased distribution of the Kirkwood Area Cultural Calendar;
- the unveiling of Kirkwood Art Express at Kirkwood Station Plaza;
- Art Under the Eaves art show at the SBD Festival of Food and Flowers;
- adoption of a KART-recommended public art component into the Kirkwood Urban Design Plan;
- a long-range plan was established to form action teams in the visual, performing and literary arts, arts education, community outreach, to develop policies and to create a procedures manual.
In 2005, the organization recorded its largest annual membership and marked several milestones. The current name, Kirkwood Area Arts Council, and a new logo were adopted. The organization redefined its structure to reflect growth and the organization’s mission to the greater community. In June a signature event, In the Garden of Art and Music, was held at the Marianist Galleries to celebrate the dedication and support of friends and members.
Other activities in 2005 include:
- The third annual Making Music in the Moonlight concert series continued to increase its scope and included a venue in Des Peres;
- KAAC’s Public Art sponsorship through a gift of the Reuters, brought Brother Mel Meyer’s sculpture “Forever and Forever” to Kirkwood where it was restored, installed and dedicated September 12, 2005 at a ceremony held in Kirkwood Park;
- a second sculpture, “Mel,” was donated by Brother Mel and installed by the Special Business District on Argonne Avenue;
- collaborations with Greentree Festival, the Kirkwood Children’s Chorale, Kirkwood Parks and Recreation, Magic House, Saint Louis Community College at Meramec, Saint Louis Wind Symphony and Kirkwood Station Plaza strengthened arts programs and brought several successful events to the community.