The Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission announced the intent to distribute $2,142,000 in grants to arts organizations for the 2009 fiscal year.  The 51 grants will be shared by a total of 46 not-for-profit organizations and are designed to further arts, cultural development and quality of life in the city.

“In spite of tough economic conditions, we are still able to fund grants that will help Nashville’s arts organizations to continue to produce fresh and stimulating arts programs for residents and visitors of all ages,” said Norree Boyd, executive director of Metro Arts. 

Boyd noted that the grants budget has been reduced by 12 percent from the 2008 fiscal year, which is indicative of the budget cuts that occurred throughout many Metro departments.

“The arts garner a significant return on investment and are instrumental in education and community development,” Boyd continued.  “It is our hope that we will see our grants budget grow in the future so that as Nashville develops, we can continue to nurture the growth of our city’s arts offerings, as well.”

This year’s grants recipients represent an array of art forms such as visual arts, dance, theatre and music, and the programming reaches a diverse range of audiences, spanning across age groups, neighborhoods, genders and ethnic backgrounds.  

 “Many of our arts organizations provide educational arts programming for children and adolescents, so we are excited to be a part of our city’s movement to continue to improve our education of Nashville’s youth,” Boyd said. 

Among the groups that provide youth programming are Nashville Children’s Theatre, W.O. Smith Music School, American Roots Music Education, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Tennessee Theatre Company, Global Education Center, Grand Master Fiddler Championship and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  

Jonathan Saad, Metro Arts grants program manager, was pleased with the quality of programming that was presented from arts organizations this year. 

“It is exciting to watch the quality of applications and programming improve and to have Nashville develop such a robust selection of arts offerings," Saad said. "People who know Nashville as Music City will come to realize that the arts here go well beyond our namesake.”  

The Commission was able to fund grants in all five grant categories: Basic I, Basic II, Basic III, Neighborhood Program and Creation. 

“In years past, we weren’t able to fund our Creation and Neighborhood Program categories when our budget was smaller, but this year we were able to ensure all categories were funded,” Saad said.  “It is important that no one is left out, because while one of our goals is to strengthen and grow our existing major groups, it is also important that we encourage the creation of original works of art.” 

The Creation category funded four groups and the Neighborhood Program category funded nine groups, including Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership, the Native American Indian Association and Project Return.  

Metro Arts makes grants to arts organizations annually to support the general operations as well as aid them in creating new art and programs.  The application and review process is comprehensive.  Each applicant organization provides a written narrative addressing excellence, community impact, learning experiences, administration, development and financial management. 

Citizen advisory panelists, appointed for their interest in and knowledge of the arts and business practices, are assigned to five grant panels: Basic Operating Support I, Basic Operating Support II, Basic Operating Support III, Neighborhood and Creation.

The citizens on this year’s panels attended presentations by applicant organizations, held discussion sessions, rated and ranked the grant proposals and made preliminary funding recommendations to the Metro Arts Grants and Awards Committee.  The final recommendations were made to the full Commission and approved at the July 17 meeting.

Award amounts and recipients are outlined below:

Basic Operating Support I - organizations with annual revenues of over $750,000:

Cheekwood   $136,871

Country Music Foundation   $193,129

Frist Center for the Visual Arts   $228,101

Nashville Ballet   $71,487

Nashville Children’s Theatre   $104,939

Nashville Opera   $149,033

Nashville Symphony   $345,182

Tennessee Performing Arts Center   $158,157

Tennessee Repertory Theatre   $60,849

Watkins College of Art & Design   $71,522

Total   $1,519,270
Basic Operating Support II - organizations with annual revenues of $100,000 to $749,999:

Belcourt Theater   $69,127

Global Education Center   $24,591

Humanities Tennessee   $31,971

Nashville Film Festival   $68,654

Nashville Jazz Workshop   $34,853

Nashville Screenwriters Conference   $3,412

Nashville Shakespeare Festival   $35,263

Orchestra Nashville   $64,899

Senior Center for the Arts   $34,968

Tennessee Art League   $9,781

Tennessee Association of Craft Artists   $17,465

W.O. Smith Nashville Community Music School   $47,820

Total   $442,804

Basic Operating Support III – organizations with annual revenues of less than $100,000:

ACT 1   $2,397

Actor’s Bridge Ensemble Theatre   $15,272

ALIAS Chamber Ensemble   $917

American Roots Music Education   $8,384

Chinese Arts Alliance   $4,645

Circle Players   $2,256

Creative Artists of Tennessee   $2,444

Grand Master Fiddler Championship   $6,388

Lakewood Theatre Company   $2,586

People’s Branch Theatre   $3,576

Plowhaus Artists Cooperative   $847

Street Theatre Company   $1,011

Tango Nashville   $3,376

Tennessee Theater Company   $6,607

Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts   $6,610

Tennessee Women’s Theater Project   $2,449

Total   $69,765

Neighborhood Program- fund arts and cultural programs of non-arts organizations:

Actor’s Bridge Ensemble   $4,015

Jefferson Street Merchant’s Partnership   $3,476               

Middle Tennessee Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition   $3,476

Nashville Public Radio WPLN   $4,240

Nashville Public Television   $3,476

Native American Indian Association of Tennessee   $3,476

Project Return   $2,630

Tango Nashville   $1,896

Travellers Rest Historic House and Museum   $3,476

Total   $30,161

Creation- fund new works of art:     

Actor’s Bridge Ensemble   $20,000

Nashville Cultural Arts Project   $20,000

Nashville Shakespeare Festival   $20,000

Nashville Symphony   $20,000

Total   $80,000

Total Grant Fund   $2,142,000

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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