Crone, a freelance writer and former editor at the RFT, started the awards last year after writer and former St. Louisan Spike Gillespie launched a similar program in Austin. "I don't mind saying it's a completely ripped-off idea," Crone says. But the slate of winners is as St. Louis as gooey butter cake, ranging from arts educator and activist Ann Haubrich to Cherokee Business Association president Pat Brannon to RFT art critic Ivy Cooper. A few of the honorees may be familiar, but the four-person judging panel chose some that will be new to even the most plugged-in local boosters. The scene-savvy Crone himself says, "I didn't know all the winners last year, and this year I know even less."
But beyond simply saluting the people who make St. Louis an interesting place to live, Crone hopes that the awards ceremony sparks some new connections among the creative class: "It's basically an excuse to get a wider ring of people together in the same room to look at each other's experiences. Just to have these people meet each other, start talking and hopefully combine on some projects I'd consider that a success."