Arts in Transit (AIT), is a non-profit subsidiary of Metro St. Louis transit and facilitates public art programs and community engagement projects in the St. Louis metro area.
Through AIT, over 150 temporary and permanent public art installations have been commissioned throughout the landscape of St. Louis City and County for many years. These installations serve to benefit the Metro transit user experience, as well as enhance the surrounding community. AIT also fully embraces the mission of not only creating enjoyment but also providing educational opportunities for students. Showing the importance of public art to younger generations ensures the survival and appreciation for the arts in the future.
Daily direction to AIT is provided by David Allen, Director of Arts in Transit.
David serves as curator of AIT’s permanent exhibits / installations as well as oversees integration of artwork into all of Metro’s capital construction projects including MetroLink & MetroBus stations and transfer centers, park-ride facilities, and community-based activities such as MetroLines, MetroScapes, and Metro Art Bus programs.
David has over 20 years of experience in administering public art programs and providing consulting services for transportation industries, exhibitions, and installation of contemporary works of art.
Arts in Transit founded in 1986 as an innovative effort to develop the look and feel of the future MetroLink light rail system in the bi-state area, a community that had been without rail-based public transportation since the last street car rolled through St. Louis’s Wellston Loop in 1966.
At that time, AIT’s primary role was to establish and coordinate a unique collaboration of artists, engineers and architects on the design of the rail system. The result was an award-winning system that exceeded all ridership expectations.
While construction of the first phase of MetroLink was in progress, AIT launched ArtLink, a series of temporary public art installations by regional and national artists along the developing route. These works brought community awareness and excitement to the developing transit system. AIT further encouraged community interest in MetroLink with speakers, neighborhood art exhibits, school programs, and launched the AIT Art Bus program. A MetroBus vehicle painted with a transit theme that served as a traveling gallery exhibition of AIT projects.
AIT became a catalyst for enabling neighborhood residents to weave MetroLink stations into the fabric of their community. As Gordon Linton, former Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration has noted: “The Bi-State Development Agency (Metro) and Arts in Transit have recognized that well-coordinated community involvement and excellence in art and design helps develop public environments that are well-used and that contribute to both the social and economic well-being of the community.”
Metro’s parent (Bi-State Development) company’s Board of Commissioners adopted a policy that emphasized the importance of design excellence, the integral role of artists and community involvement, and established a percent-for-art funding mechanism.
Bi-State Development’s Board of Commissioners authorized the establishment of a 501(c)(3) non-profit Arts in Transit, Inc., created to broaden AIT’s outreach to include the contributions of individuals, foundations, and business entities. This new direction provided an important framework to ensure that future area transit projects – including MetroLink expansion and bus system enhancements – will be designed and developed in such a way that they will become active, attractive, vital assets of the region’s neighborhoods.
To improve marketing & communication collaboration with Metro’s parent organization Bi-State Development, AIT became part of Bi-State Development’s Marketing & Communication Division.