TN Arts Commission Awards Over $4.7 Million In First Phase Of Grants Across State

Mountaineer Folk Festival at Fall Creek Falls State Park, photo by Sarah Terpstra Hanson

From Hal Partlow, Associate Director of Grants –

The Tennessee Arts Commission has awarded 366 Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Grants totaling $4,746,900.00 to help fund arts and cultural activities for arts organizations, schools, local governments, nonprofits and artists in Tennessee.

Annual Grants provide funds for operating support to well-established arts organizations; project support to nonprofits and local entities of government for arts programming in rural and urban counties; and a variety of community-based arts learning projects and programming for children in grades PK-12.

“The Tennessee Arts Commission is honored to award these annual grants to support Tennessee’s communities and schools through the arts. These investments help cultivate the arts for the benefit of all Tennesseans and offer all of us a better quality of life, provide our children with a more balanced education, stimulate economic development and help attract tourists to our state,” said Tennessee Arts Commission Chair Joe Kilgore.

Annual Grant advisory panels were held during the months of March and April to review the grant applications against published criteria. Panels are divided into different categories including Community Learning, Arts Access, Community Arts, Folk Arts, Literary Arts, Visual Arts, Music, Dance, Theater, multi-disciplinary Inter-Arts, Funds for At-Risk Youth, Creative Placemaking and Rural Arts.

Panel members are appointed to two-year terms and consist of citizens from across the state with diverse expertise in specific art disciplines, business and planning, organizational and project management, and community building. Panels are often comprised of community leaders, industry professional, patrons, sponsors, and educators. Anyone interested in serving as a panelist is encouraged to contact Commission staff.

The Tennessee Arts Commission board members voted unanimously to approve the annual grants on May 30, 2019, at the Commission quarterly board meeting. The meeting was the last quarterly meeting of FY19 at which the 15-member board voted on allocations for the next fiscal year.

“The arts are a vital tool for attraction and retention of businesses, and help build stronger communities by enhancing the distinctive character of Tennessee places,” said Anne B. Pope, Executive Director for the Tennessee Arts Commission.

The Annual Grants are the first of a series of grants that will be made by the Commission, which expects to award over 1,000 grants during FY2020, totaling more than $7.1 million. These funds have a direct impact on communities and schools across Tennessee, in both urban and rural areas.

Of the $7.1 million, more than $6.1 million comes from specialty license plate fees earmarked to benefit the arts. Additionally, the Commission receives a state appropriation from the Tennessee General Assembly, federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Tennessee Department of Health for a therapeutic music initiative for Tennessee nursing home residents.