Back the arts with your license plate

Op Ed, The Tennessean, January 24, 2014
by Senator Doug Overby – 

I was happy to read in The Tennessean on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, the front page article about the importance of the Specialty License Plate program in helping to fund the arts in Tennessee. As the story announced, a new Arts plate will be available for purchase in early spring, the first in over 10 years. I have already pre-ordered mine because I believe in the enormous positive impact the arts have on the citizens of our state.

Many people may not know that in Tennessee when you purchase certain specialty license plates, a portion of the proceeds supports the arts. The Specialty License Plate Program was created in the 1980’s to provide a dedicated revenue source for arts and cultural activities in the state. A specialty license plate costs an additional $35 each year.

For the past 8 years, I have proudly served as the Chairman of the Tennessee Arts Caucus along with approximately 46 fellow House and Senate members. The purpose of the Arts Caucus is to promote and help facilitate valuable policy discussion about the importance of the arts as well preserve the integrity of the Specialty License Plate program.

Specialty License Plate funding provides local arts programing for children and communities distributed through the Tennessee Arts Commission, a state agency. Last year, over 6.1 million dollars was invested in nonprofit organizations, K-12 public schools and artists across the state. For example, since 2011, the Commission’s Student Ticket Subsidy program has given the opportunity to more than 300,000 students to experience the arts by visiting a museum, seeing a play or attending a concert.

Last year, the Commission made grants to over 600 organizations in every region of the state, over half of which were schools. In my district, over 15,000 public school children and organizations such as Sevier County Public Library, the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center and the Appalachian Ballet Company benefited from Specialty License Plate funding.

The arts are important to Tennessee. The arts impact communities in many positive ways including quality of life, economic development and tourism as well providing a more balanced education for our children. So let’s continue to support this vital program.

I hope you will consider choosing a specialty license plate. I would recommend the new Arts plate. It not only looks great, but 90% of the proceeds helps fund arts in communities across the state. The new plate will be available at your County Clerk’s office sometime this spring. So join me, support the arts in Tennessee with an Arts plate.

Senator Doug Overbey is R-Blount & Chairman of Arts Caucus Member: 108th General Assembly. Occupation: Attorney at Law Office Address: 307 War Memorial Building, Nashville, TN 37243 Office E-mail: Office Phone: 615-741-0981