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St. Louis ArtWorks

Artists always get the short shrift, right? They make no money. They work awful hours. Not the teenagers employed by St. Louis ArtWorks, an eleven-year-old organization that puts aspiring artists to work on real assignments — and pays them. The kids, many of whom live in the inner city, are hired to work as apprentices on public-art projects during the summer, or on contractual work for local businesses during the school year. For a graphic-design contract, for instance, the students formulate an artistic strategy and execute it in the form of brochures, note cards and presentation materials. Regular business meetings with clients ensure the work is up to snuff. The idea: to foster artistic passion and business acumen. "We had more than 360 applications this year," says executive director Priscilla Block. "They call and beg, saying, I know somebody, I know somebody, please let me in.'"

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