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Arts State Budget Update For FY17

March 15, 2016

By Carol White, TN Arts Commission Associate Director of Operations. (Source)

Each year every state agency, including the Tennessee Arts Commission, presents its budget for approval to the Senate and House Finance Committees of the Tennessee General Assembly. These two public meetings offer opportunities to share how Tennessee’s arts and culture organizations and artists improve quality of life, provide children with a more complete education, and positively affect the economic vitality of our communities. TN Arts Commission Executive Director Anne Pope recently made presentations for Fiscal Year 2017, sharing a list of 950 grants so legislators could see the breadth and depth of arts and culture activities in all 95 Tennessee counties.

Each year, Anne uses different examples from the legislative districts of members on these key committees to illustrate the impact of arts and culture in communities. This year, she mentioned many organizations, including: the Oak Ridge Community Playhouse, one of the state’s oldest community playhouses; the Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center; Humanities Tennessee that produces the Southern Festival of Books; VSA TN (Located in Gallatin) that provides arts programming for the disabled; Creative Discovery Museum and Chattanooga Girls Choir; Knoxville Public Library Children’s Festival of Reading and Tennessee School for the Deaf; Niswonger Performing Arts Center; The Blues Foundation, Hattiloo Theatre and Stax Museum of American Soul Music; Williamson County Youth Orchestra; and Lee University’s Children’s Theater Program.

Arts education program mentions included: Knoxville Museum of Art’s Summer Workshop for children and adults with autism; Johnson City’s ArtsCorps, which provides free after-school art classes to over 1,250 homeless and at-risk children; Student Ticket Subsidy grants to Franklin and Marion counties, where over 1,200 children from four schools experienced theater productions, including a historical play about Abraham Lincoln; and to Alamo City Elementary School, where an artist conducted arts activities designed to reinforce non-arts subjects, including science, math and social studies. Anne also noted various arts projects, including: the South Central Workforce Alliance in partnership with Jobs for TN, which teaches high school students job skills through the arts; the City of Waynesboro’s Waynesboro Heritage Music Series; and art for returning soldiers at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg.

Legislators commended the Commission for its work to make investments in all 95 Tennessee counties. There were some routine questions related to the procurement for a new arts grantsmaking system currently underway and how the competitive system for grants allocation works. All indications are that the $7.9 million TN Arts Commission budget will be approved as presented in the Governor’s overall state budget later this spring.