Remembering East Tennessee Arts Philanthropist, Jim Martin

By Anne B. Pope, Executive Director —

martin_jim5583b_newsitemTennessee lost an arts hero and a dear friend this past weekend. James C. “Jim” Martin passed away Saturday afternoon, December 19, 2015. Jim made a tremendous difference for the arts in Northeast Tennessee, impacting the lives of thousands of students and the region.

Over the years, Jim has made many gifts to regional arts organizations in memory of his late wife, Mary B. Martin, but his largest gift led to the creation of East Tennessee State University’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts. The school brings all the arts at ETSU together under one umbrella providing a wide range of arts activities including high-caliber performing arts events, exhibitions and workshops. In the fall of 2012, Martin provided another donation to the university, a gift that will serve as a catalyst for ETSU’s proposed arts classroom building and performing arts center.

As Jim has said, “I have been slowly trying to weave a tapestry of local art-oriented institutions that can cooperate and begin to form an influential presence in our area.”

In 2013, Jim was presented with a Governor’s Arts Award by Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam in the Arts Leadership category. Jim and his late wife have also been honored for their philanthropy by the Tennessee Board of Regents, ETSU’s governing body, with the 2013 Regents’ Award and the 2010 Chancellor’s Award.

With his deep generosity and commitment to the arts, Jim has left Tennessee a true legacy that will continue to positively impact the Northeast region for generations to come.