Archetypes: Cynthia Prost, President of the Arts and Education Council
A conversation with Cynthia Prost, president of the Arts and Education Council. No two days are alike for Prost, who runs the day-to-day operations of the 52-year-old arts organization: She raises funds from the private sector, applies for grants, attends cultural events around town and has just finished managing the top-to-bottom renovation of the Arts and Education Council office on Olive Street. Her goal is to provide affordable space to arts organizations around the city: Utilities are subsidized, and several rooms are available for productions. Outside of work for the Council, she also serves as a senior lecturer in Fontbonne University’s graduate nonprofit management program. Her days, she says, are packed but fun—and sitting in the basement of the renovated building, where gorgeous columns have been uncovered from under wooden casings of days past, Prost looks like she wouldn’t have it any other way.
What is your current frame of mind? Happy.
When and where are you happiest? On the beach of any ocean.
What is your favorite smell? Puppy breath.
What is one word that describes you? Driven.
What did you eat for breakfast today? Vanilla yogurt with blueberries.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Does that make sense?”
What is your most marked characteristic? My dimples.
What is your greatest weakness? Impatience.
What trait do you most admire in others? Honesty.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? I haven’t met them yet.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I don’t think anything.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I would say beating breast cancer 11 years ago.
Which living person do you most admire? Barack Obama. I admire him for so many reasons.
With which historical figure do you most identify? Abraham Lincoln. In the moment of time he was living in, he acted on his conscience and made decisions.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it would be? Victoria Beckham. You bet—as long as David Beckham is still around.
What is your most treasured possession? Birthday cards from my mom and dad.
What is your greatest extravagance? Cable television—my AT&T U-verse. It’s so darn expensive now.
What is your greatest fear? I don’t really think I have one.
Who are your favorite writers? Flannery O’Connor, Donna Tartt (“The Goldfinch” is amazing), James Patterson.
Which artist do you admire most? Wynton Marsalis.
What is your favorite hobby? I love to read.
Where would you like to live? California.
Who are your heroes in real life? Anyone involved with animal rescue.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? My mother.
What’s something interesting that you just learned? I learned how to measure counter space.
What are you most looking forward to? In January, Arts and Education Council will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the St. Louis Art Awards.
What is one thing you wish would happen? We would make quality education accessible for all children.
What is something you still want to learn? How to play piano.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? Live in southern California.
If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be? “Don’t worry so much, everything is going to work out.” And use sunscreen!
Want to learn more about the people who make St. Louis so wonderful? Check out more Archetypes interviews, like this one.
‘Archetypes’ are off-the-cuff interviews with St. Louis’ most inspiring, well-known personalities based on the 19th-century Parisian parlor game known as the Proust Questionnaire. This interview appeared in the September 2015 issue.