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Metro Arts Announces Grant Funds To Be Distributed In Fical Year 2018

Jennifer Cole

Budget Increase Means $2.47 million for local arts and cultural organizations

The Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts) approved $2,470,200 in community arts investments for the 2018 fiscal year, providing 62 grants to the 48 different nonprofit organizations that were successful in Metro Arts’ competitive grant review process.

Included in the Mayor Megan Barry’s proposed FY18 Metro budget and the approved Council Substitute budget was a $500,000 in funding for Metro Arts programs and public investments in the arts. $275,000 of the approved increase was targeted towards grants funding for the coming year. The 12.5% increase in available funding for grants shows the administrations’ commitment to increase arts access for all Davidson County residents. “As Nashville changes, Metro Arts is committed to make sure that arts are part of a vibrant and equitable community,” noted Metro Arts Chair, Clay Haynes.

Metro Arts received funding requests totaling more than $5.1 million, an increase of $1 million from FY17 including 18% increase in new applicants. The increase in requests is due to budget growth within small to mid-sized arts organizations such as Nashville Children’s Theatre and Nashville Film Festival but also the emergence of new organizations serving the community, like OZ Arts, New Dialect, and The Porch Writers’ Collective.

“The increase championed by the Mayor and the Council ensures that more arts programs are available to every resident of the city. We’ve seen dramatic changes in the arts ecology in Nashville. We have long standing organizations working hard to serve a changing city and new organizations emerging in all art forms as we become a more diverse and global city. The new investments help us keep pace with growth and resident demand for arts programs,” said Jennifer Cole, Metro Arts Executive Director.

Grant proposals were reviewed and scored by 25 citizen panelists, 4 independent financial reviewers, and 5 out-of-state adjudicators. Funds were recommended in six categories: Basic Operating Support, Core Operating Support, Arts Access, Youth Arts, Creation, and Catalyst. All applicants must meet rigorous artistic, operational and financial standards.

An estimated 2.8 million residents and visitors will be engaged across Davidson County through performance, exhibition, new art development, arts demonstration and arts education experiences for adults and children made possible through 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. “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.

Additionally, Metro Arts’ added a new grant category, Catalyst, intended to help local nonprofits develop organizational practices like fundraising, marketing, diversity/inclusion and leadership transition.

“We are extremely thankful to Mayor Megan Barry and 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, Managing Director of the Nashville Children’s Theatre and Past-Chair of the Nashville Arts Coalition.

A complete list of grant awards and other program information can be found at 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


FY2018 Metro Arts Grants Awards