Building Creativity Thanks to Arts Educators

By Ann Talbott Brown, Director of Arts Education –

This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Nashville Arts Magazine. 

During this season of gratitude, I’d like to give thanks to all of those who make arts learning possible across Tennessee. As a grants manager, I am fortunate to have a glimpse into schools and community settings where grants-funded arts education projects occur in all 95 counties of the state. Each arts learning activity looks different depending on the needs of participants, the ingenuity of the educator, and the skills of collaborating artists.

I am often struck by the countless ways teachers—licensed arts specialists, general classroom teachers, teaching artists, and community arts education providers—create learning environments that not only build skills and knowledge in the arts but also inspire students to apply creative thinking beyond the classroom. This is possible because the educators themselves are creative thinkers who are comfortable with an unstructured process and open to exploring new possibilities.

For those of you interested in exploring new ways to present content and developing creativity in your students, you may consider applying for one or more of the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Arts Education Annual Grants below. Most of these grants pay for professional artist fees, in-state travel or lodging for artists, space rental, marketing, and consumable arts supplies related to the project.

Arts360 grants support whole-school arts integration programs to improve instruction and increase student outcomes through arts integration, making arts-based learning a critical component of every child’s educational experience.

Arts Education Community Learning grants provide funds for projects that use the arts in creative and innovative ways in non-traditional PK–12 settings or for adult learners.

Arts Education Teacher Training grants fund professional development with hands-on, immersion-style curriculum planning sessions for educators, allowing them to build their own creative thinking skills.

Funds for At-Risk Youth grants support arts-based after-school or summer camp programs geared toward children in grades PK–12 who are considered at-risk.

Applications are due January 22, 2018, for activities occurring July 2018–June 2019. Thanks to the many educators who offer arts education as described above. Consider applying for a grant, and your students will thank you too!

For more information about Arts Education grants, please visit