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Metro Arts Announces Largest Increase in Community Grants in Over a Decade


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts) approved $2,195,200 in community arts investments for the 2017 fiscal year, providing 61 grants to the 48 different nonprofit organizations that were successful in Metro Arts’ competitive grant review process.

The FY17 Metro budget, adopted this week by the Metro Council and signed by Mayor Megan Barry, provides a $285,000 increase in grants funding, the largest increase in more than a decade.

Metro Arts received grant requests totaling more than $4.2 million (nearly double their available budget). The FY17 increase deepens the ability of Metro Arts to support organizations such as OZ Arts Nashville and YEAH! (Youth Empowerment through Arts & Humanities) that have emerged in the decade since the last funding increase, to serve a changing Nashville. Additionally, it allows Metro Arts and the city to support many traditional organizations such as the Nashville Ballet, Southern Word or Choral Arts Link who have seen double digit budget growth as they expand to serve outside of the urban core and address the demographic changes of the county.

“The increase championed by the Council and the administration ensures that more arts programs are available to every resident of the city. As Nashville changes, so does the cultural ecosystem and the additional funds were deeply needed to invest in those cultural organizations—large and small that are bringing dance, music, theatre, visual art, craft and performance to every corner of Nashville,” said Jennifer Cole, Metro Arts Executive Director.

Grant proposals were reviewed and scored by 42 citizen panelists and funds were recommended in four categories: Arts Access Project Support, After-School Arts Project Support, Creation Project Support, and Basic Operating Support. All new dollars, approved by the Council were focused in Basic Operating support, that provides, general investment in the year-round operations of cultural organizations of all sizes. All applicants must meet rigorous artistic, operational and financial standards.

“Through the placement of writer and music mentors, Southern Word offers a resource for teachers, youth, and the community that is in demand at almost every Nashville public high school and that speaks to some of our greatest challenges as city. It would be extremely difficult to sustain or scale up our success for the benefit of Nashville's families without this support,” said Benjamin Smith, executive director of Southern Word.

An estimated 2.7 million residents will be engaged across Davidson County through performance, exhibition, new art development, arts demonstration and arts education experiences for adults and children as a result of these grant investments. The most profound impact of new grant dollars is on those “grassroots” cultural organizations serving young people, seniors and others with limited arts access.

“We are extremely thankful to the Metro Council for recognizing the value the arts have in Nashville. To do so, we must continue to invest in the artists and organizations that drive neighborhood economies and bring joy and creativity to all of our residents, regardless of income or background,” said Noah Spiegel, CEO of the Nashville Opera and Chair of the Nashville Arts Coalition.

Find a complete list of grant awards and other program information

Metro Arts grants are funded through the operational budget of Metro Nashville & Davidson County.

About the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts)

The Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, a commission of the Metropolitan Nashville Government, drives a more equitable and vibrant community through the arts. Metro Arts receives operational support from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and additional information is available online at