Cecilia Nadal, Founder and Executive Director of Gitana Productions is first African American in St. Louis to Receive Missouri Arts Award for “Arts Leadership”


LOUIS, MO – On February 6, 2019 Cecilia Nadal will receive the Missouri Arts Award for Arts Leadership at a public ceremony in Jefferson City at the Capital.

For the past 22 years she has led the strategic vision of Gitana using music, drama and global education as vehicles for bringing diverse members of the St. Louis region together through cross-cultural engagement.

The ceremony will take place from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM in the Rotunda of the Capital. Earlier in the day Cecilia will join other State winners in different categories at the Governor’s Mansion.


During the past 22 years Gitana Productions has achieved a number of “firsts” in St. Louis including:

  • Bringing the first major Chinese musical event to St. Louis bringing 80 of the top musicians to Powell Symphony Hall with an even distribution of audience representatives from the Asian, African American and White American communities.
  • Gitana initiated the first Community Arts Program that recruited immigrant/refugee youth and African American youth teaching them skills in intercultural engagement using music, dance and drama. More than 780 youth have benefitted from the Global Education thru the Arts Program that is located at Carpenter Branch Library in South City.
  • Gitana has brought to stage numerous original plays dealing with such topics as the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, domestic violence in the South Asian community, race and class issues in our society, challenges to our democracy and more. A number of those plays have been nominated for Kevin Kline Awards. These plays have brought new populations to theater for the first time such as the Afghani, Hispanic, South Asian and other minority communities.
  • Gitana started “Peace Concerts” in economically and socially distresses neighborhoods bringing African Americans, immigrants and refugees together.
  • Cultures that have worked hand in hand with Gitana include Bosnians, Romani, Latino, Afghani, Indian, Chinese, Peruvian, Brazilian, African and more.
  • The first mainstage concert to include Jewish and Muslim artists playing together at the Sheldon was initiated by Gitana as was the first World Sacred Music Festival in the City of St. Louis.
  • Highly acclaimed original works by Gitana include New World, Black and Blue, Muddy River, Faultlines, Eye on the Sparrow. (Black and Blue was the first play to be produced about the conflict between the African American community and the Police leading to the Ferguson protests.
Photography by Wesley Law

Cecilia Nadal says about this recognition, “It is important that the public see how it is possible for an African American producer to bring the world to St. Louis while also bringing diverse segments of the community together with acceptance of our similarities and differences. I have not done this alone but with the support of each of these communities whose leadership teams welcomed our genuine interests in their culture.” 

It should be noted that Cecilia has been recognized by Women of Achievement, St. Louis Visionary Awards, the Ethical Society, YWCA Women in Leadership, Adelante Award. Whose Who in Black St. Louis and the Encore Purpose Prize Fellows Award. 


Gitana Productions, Inc. is a not-for-profit arts and education organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural awareness and collaboration by bringing international music, dance and drama to the St. Louis community. Events produced by Gitana present a rarely seen diversity of international and local artists exhibiting both traditional and innovative artistic expressions. For more information, visit www.gitana-inc.org or call Gitana Productions at (314) 721-6556.