We are a community of people in every profession and sector using music to create more value in towns and cities all over the world. In the special series #InConversationWith, we talk to accomplished members of our community and uncover their journey. This story features Larry Morris, Director of Artist Residency, Kranzberg Arts Foundation (Saint Louis, MO, USA) and member of the Committee of “Music at the Intersection" - a vast music festival honouring Saint Louis heritage, music influence, and songbook.
Profile at a Glance
Full Name: Larry Morris
City, Country: St. Louis (MO), USA
Work Profile/Designation: Director of Artist Residency, member of the Committee at "Music at the Intersection" a vast music festival honouring Saint Louis heritage, music influence, and songbook.
Current Company: Kranzberg Arts Foundation
Previous Notable Work: Got his start in the music scene in 2006 with the band iLLPHONiCS, touring all over the regions and the US. Ever since, Larry has been doing production and consultancy work to all things music related, from producing festivals to sitting on music-related committees, and lifting the overall music ecosystem in his hometown of St. Louis.
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
I have been on the music scene in Saint Louis since 2006 with my band iLLPHONiCS. We also toured all over the regions and the US. Being a rather unique and independent group, I had to learn all of the ins and outs of the music industry as we needed assistance most of our career and had minimal budgets. Necessity led to innovation for us. People noticed my work for the band and asked me to help build festivals, sit on music-related committees, book artists, and do consultations. So for years, I allowed myself to be mentored and would show up and do the work wherever asked. I also would attend and participate in anything I could involving the music culture in Saint Louis. Doing this, I started to build many existing relationships, including my current supervisor Executive Director of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, Chris Hansen. I was looking to shift careers, and he knew my work ethic and commitment, and the alignment was there for me to interview and ultimately successfully obtain my current position.
Which would you say it's your main project right now? For those who aren't familiar, please describe it and talk a little bit about it.
My main focus is preparing to onboard new residents in our program for 2024 while lifting the current cohorts' final projects. Our program is an 18-Month Residency that gives the weight of our entire infrastructure (venues, workspace, team, and storytelling) to the artist selected. So because of this, there are a lot of moving parts. My daily tasks consist of finalising jurors, working with marketing to publicise the Residency, preparing all the documents and training for the new group, and other administrative tasks. Outside of that, I'm involved in our work with Sound Diplomacy around a comprehensive report on our music ecosystem and moving the needle forward on that, which I'm very passionate about. I am also working on some educational and start-up partnerships for the foundation.
Walk us through a typical day-to-day working as a Director of Arts Residencies at Kranzberg Arts Foundation.
My day starts with me typically looking through emails and responding after I look at my calendar to see what meetings I have on the books (My meetings are usually all over the area as I prefer face-to-face when able). After I dive into the business of Residency. This could be a range of things, from working on documents and verbiage, meeting with or correspondence with current residents, or researching Residencies and how we can improve ours. The list is long. Meetings are always part of my day—colleagues, community partners, the executive director, etc.
How does your work impact the music ecosystem of your city? Do you have any milestones that you'd like to share?
I am a strong proponent of data-driven analysis to inform real infrastructural change in our music scene. This is what excited me most about working on our Sound Diplomacy report. Saint Louis is a fantastic music city. We have the artists, we have the events, and we are the upper echelon of creativity. We need robust community organisation around the subject, better equity in leadership roles pertaining to music, entry points to the music industry outside of just stages and events, and a full lean-in from the local government. The tide is changing, and I am fortunate to be at some of these tables pushing for and informing these changes. Working for Kranzberg helps as my organisation is committed to lifting and creating this ecosystem, and I represent not only myself but my job during these discussions and actions.