Film, Talent Experts to Discuss ‘Entrepreneurship in the Arts’


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 3, 2010 – J. “Kim” Tucci, co-founder of The Pasta House Co. restaurant chain, and his wife, Sharon Lee Tucci, founder of TalentPlus Inc., the first American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) Screen Actors Guild commercial talent agency in St. Louis, will discuss “Entrepreneurship in the Arts” at noon Nov. 17 in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at the River Campus as part of the 2010-2011 University Speaker Series.

The Tuccis both serve on the board of directors of Cinema St. Louis and have been instrumental in the development of the internationally renowned St. Louis International Film Festival.

The presentation, which also serves as a keynote address for Global Entrepreneurship Week, is free and open to the public. The Tuccis will share their perspectives on how artists can create value that provides opportunities for themselves and other artistsᾰhow to be a successful arts entrepreneur. Mrs. Tucci will share her insights on how aspiring artists can utilize talent agencies to help develop their careers. And they will discuss their shared love of independent film making and the incredibly entrepreneurial process of producing an award winning independent film.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is dedicated to inspiring students to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity, and to challenge them to generate new ideas and seek better ways to do things. In conjunction with the Tuccis’ presentation, Southeast students will be invited to participate in a new 48-hour film festival in which teams will be given a script and 48 hours to produce a short film. The films will be judged by an expert panel and prizes will be awarded.

“In my opinion, one of the purest forms of entrepreneurship is the creation of art,” said Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Southeast Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), and the regional director of Global Entrepreneurship Week. “Artists utilize talent and other raw materials to create value enjoyed in many forms. This is a terrific opportunity for Southeast students interested in art to learn from two exceptional art entrepreneurs.”

J. “Kim” TucciA St. Louis native, Mr. Tucci is heavily involved in regional, state, and local, civic and business affairs and he has been very active in the independent film production community. He has served as chairman of the board of Cinema St. Louis, chairman of the Missouri Film Commission and president of the St. Louis International Film Festival.

St. Louis International Film Festival is a Missouri not-for-profit organization. Their goal is to enhance the St. Louis area’s cultural life by presenting events that highlight and advance film as an art form. The festival —  named one of the “10 Best International Festivals in the United States” by Chris Gore’s The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide — is especially concerned with exhibiting American independent productions and horizon-expanding international films that would otherwise never screen in St. Louis. The festival also provides local audiences with the opportunity to preview high-quality art films before their commercial release.

 In addition to his interest in independent film production, Mr. Tucci has assisted with numerous charitable organizations, and the St. Louis Business Journal has named him one of the “Top 100 Business Leaders in the St. Louis Region.” Mr. Tucci, along with his partner Joe Fresta and late partner John Ferrara, founded The Pasta House Co. restaurant chain more than 35 years ago. Today, with 32 restaurants and more than 2,000 employees, The Pasta House Co. is the largest locally owned restaurant chain in Missouri.

Mr. Tucci is a past chairman and currently vice chairman of the Saint Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. Mr. Tucci is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for outstanding leadership through various civic, business and charitable organizations.

Sharon Lee Tucci

TalentPlus Inc. was established by Sharon Lee Tucci as the first American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) Screen Actors Guild commercial talent agency in St. Louis. After developing talent for print and electronic media and becoming one of the premier agencies in the Midwest, Mrs. Tucci then re-branded the fashion division to Centro Models to take it worldwide. TalentPlus was selected as one of the ‘Most Fun Places to Work’ by St. Louis Magazine and has become of the great business success stories in recent Saint Louis history.

Mrs. Tucci’s dedication has not gone unnoticed. In 2002, the St. Louis Business Journal honored her as one of the Most Influential Women in Business, and 1998 brought her honor by AFTRA for two decades of service. In 1996, the YWCA honored her as their first inductee in the Academy of Leaders in the Entrepreneur/Business Owner field.


Sharon Lee Tucci


J. “Kim” Tucci