For over twenty years, Borderless Arts Tennessee has served as a leader in opening access to the arts to people with disabilities. At the time of it’s founding, most of the major cultural organizations were not offering accessible programs and there were very few arts opportunities for people with disabilities in the State. Borderless Arts Tennessee (then VSA Tennessee) became the leader in this field by offering training and consultation to the major cultural organizations, inspiring the start-up of new arts programs specifically tailored for people with disabilities, and offering their own wide range of arts programming.
Since 2006, Borderless Arts Tennessee has been providing artist residencies in 12-16 schools every year free of charge to the school. The residencies assist the educators in meeting curriculum and behavioral classroom goals by using the arts as a tool. The residency program results in an annual Curriculum Guide with lessons plans and activities that can be used in any classroom throughout the State. The Curriculum Guide is provided to the TN Dept. of Education.
Borderless Arts Tennessee has served as a leader in supporting the career development of artists with disabilities. Borderless Arts Tennessee worked with the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Tennessee Department of Developmental Disabilities to provide webinars in career development. Borderless Arts Tennessee pursued these efforts further in a semester long Careers in Music program for Transition Students in Metro Nashville, the Crescendo Summer Music Institute, the Certification Program that is offered through the Teapot Diplomats, and music mentoring for the Young Soloist program. Annually, Borderless Arts Tennessee provides several professional development opportunities for artists with disabilities.
Borderless Arts Tennessee also provides performance and exhibition opportunities. In the areas of performance, Borderless Arts Tennessee has placed musicians with disabilities on the stages of the Ryman, Dollywood, Ford Theater, the CMA, the Bluebird Cafe, and the Schermerhorn to name a few.
Borderless Arts Tennessee has also had participants performing in venues all over the State for corporate events, festivals, and private gatherings. Borderless Arts Tennessee has no rival as the leader in opening doors for performance opportunities for musicians with disabilities.
In the area of visual arts, Borderless Arts Tennessee has offered exhibition opportunities since its inception. Borderless Arts Tennessee connected with small galleries throughout the State, corporate venues and festivals to show the work of people with disabilities.
Borderless Arts Tennessee is committed to partnerships. Borderless Arts Tennessee has worked with all of the major cultural organizations, corporate partners, environmental agencies, educational institutions, organizations that serve people with disabilities, government agencies and historic sites. Borderless Arts Tennessee won a national award from the John F Kennedy Center and a State Award from Middle Tennessee State University for its leadership in partnership development.
Borderless Arts has represented Tennessee in the national and international arena. Borderless Arts Tennessee has represented TN in the national arena through the Young Soloist program, in the numerous National Historic Site exhibitions by the Teapot Diplomats, in creating the TN ornaments for the national Christmas Tree and through, the quilt in the US State Department’s Art in Embassies program. Borderless Arts Tennessee has represented Tennessee in the international arena at the international forum in Egypt, by leading a 40 days digital international arts festival, through the creation of the international Pieces of Peace project, by hosting international art exchanges with groups on every continent (and that includes scientists in Antarctica), and being invited to speak at the United Nations which has been put off until 2022.
When COVID hit, Borderless Arts Tennessee quickly adapted and emerged as a leader in digital arts delivery. Borderless Arts Tennessee has been invited to create the art for an astronaut’s space suit for a mission called Beyond. This space/arts project has been Borderless Arts Tennessee’s next step of making the arts truly Borderless and taking them even Beyond our own planet.