Happy New Year!

From Anne B. Pope, Executive Director —


2016 New Year greeting card with glittering golden background and vintage clock, countdown concept, vector illustrationWith 2015 about to be in the record book, I would like to take a moment to highlight just a few of this year’s accomplishments and thank the many people who continue to cultivate the arts in TN.

In FY 2015, the Commission awarded approximately 945 grants in 20 grant categories totaling $5.3 M. We have been able to make investments in every TN county thanks to the on-going work of staff and constituents across the state.

As we know, arts and culture can be a catalyst for economic vitality, livability and growth in Tennessee communities. This year, the Commission introduced the Creative Placemaking grant competition, designed to enhance the distinctive character of Tennessee communities for positive economic and community outcomes.Twelve awards were made totaling $75,000—six of these grants were made in rural counties.

Another program that positively impacts communities through the arts is Arts Build Community (ABC). This year’s ABC grants totaled $238,000 and resulted in additional investments of $1.4 M. In other words, for every one dollar invested by the Commission, six additional dollars were leveraged—which came primarily from private contributions.

In October, the Commission launched a new arts education program, Arts 360 Arts Integration Grant. It supports schools in implementing arts integration in every classroom throughout the whole school to improve instruction and increase student outcomes.

The Student Ticket Subsidy program continues to give students the opportunity to learn from the arts, both inside and outside of the classroom. In the past five years, over a half million students have benefited from this program.

The Commission has signed on as a study partner for the fifth national Arts & Economic Prosperity (AEP5) study sponsored by Americans for the Arts (AFTA). We are joined in this effort by 25 TN local study partners who will receive custom local studies.

Commission staff continues to make tremendous progress towards reducing the cost of doing business through streamlining the grants process. Improvements of the FY16 annual grant contract process shortened contract execution by at least two months. The Commission also implemented three new websites this year:, and that have allowed us to communicate more effectively.

These accomplishments would not have been possible without the leadership of our board and the advocacy of Tennesseans For The Arts. We extend to them a heartfelt thank you, as their dedication to the arts in TN is beyond measure. Thank you arts leaders, arts administrators, arts patrons, arts educators and everyone who has participated in the arts in some way this year. Because of you, the arts in TN continue to thrive and flourish.

I would also like to take a moment to thank the legislators who advocate on behalf of the arts, especially members of the Arts Caucus led by Chair Senator Doug Overbey. This year, the arts have seen a new opportunity with the roll-out of the Gift-A-Tag program for Specialty License Plates, a main source of funding for the arts in TN. We are most grateful to Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Treasurer David Lillard, who were instrumental in making this happen. We have seen some great efforts from across the state in promoting the program—thank you and please keep up the good work. Thank you to East Tennessee PBS who recently created a television spot for the program.

Finally, a very special thank you to all of the artists and arts organizations who work tirelessly to develop your craft and continually cultivate the arts in TN. There would certainly be a void in our state without the work and passion you bring to our culture.

We are looking forward to 2016 and all that it will bring for the arts. In the meantime, everyone at the Commission wishes you and your family a safe and happy New Year.