We are Tennessee's statewide advocacy organization for the arts. We are a membership organization made up of arts advocates moved by our deep conviction of the civic and personal value of the arts.
TFTA Board Members are all different, but they ALL believe in two things: The arts change lives and the revenue from the Specialty License Plates program helps to fund some of the organizations and programs that make Tennessee so amazing. TFTA's Board of Directors are a diverse group of individuals that govern the organization. This group is comprised of Tennessee natives as well as more recent residents; from small towns to big cities across our great state. Board members serve three-year terms, can be reappointed, and have served on the Tennessee Arts Commission in some capacity. Many are trustees, board members, or executive directors of other nonprofit arts organizations. Some are amateur singers, dancers, painters, or musicians; while others have been professionally trained. Some love ballet while others like buck dancing but at the end of the day, they join together to advocate for the arts in Tennessee.
Director of Development
Germantown Performing Arts Center
When I was little growing up in Brazil, my parents played music on the stereo every night when my Dad got home from work. At that time, children were to be "seen, not heard", so I amused myself by pretending to be a ballerina in the far end of the living room, popping out from behind a big leather club chair onto my "stage" in front of the stereo. In my heart & my mind, I was beautiful, graceful & strong, dancing with emotion & joy. I had only seen dance on a couple of occasions, but it inspired me and gave me a safe place to be.
Theatre Director & Arts Management Consultant
I was in fourth grade at a Catholic School in New York. I was asked by our music teacher to stay after class which sent shivers up my spine as the last thing a student ever wanted to hear was that a Nun wanted to see you after class. She informed me that I had a lovely soprano voice and that I would be joining the church choir to sing in Handel's 'Hallelujah Chorus' for Easter Sunday services. The adult choir members were extremely welcoming and we spent two evenings a week working together for six weeks of rehearsal. This was a truly inspiring experience that revealed to me the beauty and the power of the arts. And I made a Nun happy for the first time in my life.
Tennessee Arts Commission
Tennessee Arts Commission
Knoxville Museum of Art
Growing up in a small town, with little access to the arts in any form, I longed to enroll in the Famous Artists Course (you know--draw the pirate or dog or whatever and “A fascinating money-making art career could be yours”). Eventually I found my way to more substantive educational opportunities and discovered the rich buffet of visual and performing arts that’s fortunately available in so many places these days. We need to keep in mind that, not so long ago, many fewer people could directly experience the arts, and work to make sure everyone has access to diverse, high-quality art experiences, no matter where they live.
Producing Director / CEO
Cumberland County Playhouse
In the fourth grade, I went on my first school trip to the Cumberland County Playhouse to see ANNIE. I instantly fell in love! I remember distinctively feeling that this is where I belong and that I had found my tribe. I feel so honored to now serve as Producing Director of the Playhouse. The theater that changed my life forever!
Government & Community Relations
When I was growing up, my maternal grandmother and her sister lived with my family. My earliest memories are filled with art experiences created for me by these two wonderful women. They include painting, making rag rugs, costume-making for my dolls, assembling collections of all sorts, producing plays, playing dress up, being read stories and reciting poems. It was an
idyllic childhood. Fueled by their creativity and my imagination these
memories formed the foundation for my life-long belief in the power of the arts.
Jackson Arts Council
It all started with my Elementary Art Teacher, Mrs. O'Neal. She knew I loved art and saw that I had a passion and a talent for it at that young age, and I have fond memories of her encouraging me. Thankfully, I had art teachers who invested in me growing up in the Jackson-Madison County public school system and that grew to where I majored in Art in college. Now, as Executive Director of the Jackson Arts Council, I get to witness how transformative art it is on a community as a whole, it's artists and it's residents and that is something to truly love.
Served 23 years as Executive Director
Arts & Education Council and the Fellowship of Southern Writers
At age five, Oklahoma — a ballet — is my first remembered live arts experience. My mother (who served on the community concerts planning committee in my hometown) took my brother, sister and I to this amazing performance. Little did I know that this experience would lead to a fulfilling 20+ year career in the arts!
Tennessee Arts Commission Member
Second Vice President of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Board
As a little girl growing up in East Tennessee, my family and I attended the World’s Fair in Knoxville. I was in awe of the various art and art forms represented from all over the world! That exposure led me to a lifelong love of the arts and appreciation for how important art is in our lives.
Middle TN Vice President
Stax Artist & CEO
Too young to understand the breadth, depth and power of the arts – a kindergarten recital where I danced as a ‘falling leaf’ and sang on stage also in front of a live audience turned me on! The lights and the applause were secondary. But the music and the movement, ‘it’ took hold of me. I understand now that ‘it’ was – the arts – titillating my creativity.
Founder & Executive Director
When I was 6 years old one of my dad & mom’s parishioners - a married couple - asked my parents if they would let my two older sisters & I listen to a song in their Cadillac. It was an odd request although my parents agreed. I remember the door of the Cadi as it shut with this strong and solid sound. The married couple sat in the front seat, my sisters and I sat in the back. They turned on classical music (prob a popular song) - really loudly - I remember being stunned by the beauty, richness and depth of classical music. Since then, I’ve been listening to a wide range of music. In my 30’s, I had the privilege of working for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra for, in large part, because of this experience.
I was lucky to grow up in Columbia where we had art & music teachers from the earliest grades & a drama teacher, Mrs. Prince, from 5th grade through high school. In 6th grade she picked me to be Sunny, in the community musical Sunny of Sunnyside (roughly following the plot of Annie), & I was hooked. On a high school trip to NYC we saw The Great White Hope starring James Earl Jones & Jane Alexander which was mesmerizing. Our home was always filled with music more than TV & one of my first jobs in Nashville was handling PR for the Symphony and the Tennessee Performing Arts Foundation. Later, part of my job in the Governor’s Office included serving as liaison with the TAC & the larger arts community. I wish every child and adult could know the power & the joy of performing or enjoying plays or exhibits or ballets or concerts & the life-lessons the arts teach us.
International Storytelling Center
Growing up, it sometimes felt like a confusing world, the process of making art at an early age was a way to make sense of a complex world, around me. At a very young age, there was also a lot of racism in my world, but then one day my teacher, in elementary school, placed this tiny head sculpture I made from clay into an exhibit in our local museum. I was so joyful when I got to show that to my parents. The experience offered a way to say I was welcome, to feel a sense of belonging, and acceptance. Most of all, it validated that my story mattered. Long before I became president of the ISC, I was a ceramicist, I taught art in high schools. I wanted all kids, regardless of who they were or where they came from, to know that feeling, that their stories mattered, too.
Kiran Singh Sirah
Retired City-County Manager
I have always loved art and my favorite painter growing up was Norman Rockwell. I really became more enamored with paintings when I was in Amsterdam a few years back and was invited to the Van Gogh museum. We were also invited to view the Rembrandt paintings at the Rijksmuseum. Those experiences have really enhanced my enthusiasm for the arts.