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C U LT I VAT I N G THE ARTS IN TENNESSEE BY A N N E B . POPE While it seemed as though spring took a long time to arrive, our spring schedule launched right on time. We are currently reviewing grant applications and preparing allocations for the next fiscal year. We are also working on our 20142019 Strategic Plan. For the past 18 months in preparation for our new strategic plan, the Arts Commission has gathered information statewide. We have listened to our constituents, legislators, local officials, community leaders and Governor Haslam, among others. We conducted four strategic planning public meetings held in Gray, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis, which you can read a summary of written by our panel moderator, Ann Coulter, on page 6. With all of this information, we have now identified our goals and objectives for the first draft. We are very fortunate to have Kelly Barsdate, Chief Program and Planning Officer from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) facilitate this process. A draft of the plan will be available for public comment sometime this summer. I am so pleased to welcome our two new Commission members, Jan Ramsey of Chattanooga and Leo McGee of Cookeville. We are thankful to have such a committed and energetic board whose support for the arts in Tennessee is truly inspirational. Each member of the Commission brings significant experience and a valuable perspective. Lastly, I want to congratulate Anita Norman from Arlington, TN, who recently won the 2014 Poetry Out Loud National Competition. Anita is the first Tennessean to win the national finals. She will be representing Tennessee on the national stage as the Poetry Out Loud ambassador for the next year. You can read more about her on p.10.


Commission News.................................................................................................. 1 The Kingsport Carousel, A Dream Realized.............................................................. 4 Tennessee Arts Commission Strategic Planning Public Meetings Report.................. 6 Anita Norman Wins National Poetry Out Loud Competition..................................... 10 Students Shine at The Poetry Out Loud State Competition..................................... 12 Six Characteristics to Successful Arts and Rural Economic Development Efforts.... 16

COMMISSION MEMBERS Rhea Condra, Gallatin – Chair

Lanis “Lanny” Cope, Knoxville – Vice Chair Patsy White Camp, Jackson – Secretary Lisa Bobango, Germantown Ritche Bowden, Memphis Donna Chase, Knoxville Stephanie Barger Conner, Nashville Ed Gerace, Johnson City Waymon L. Hickman, Columbia Chancellor Carol L. McCoy, Nashville Dr. Leo McGee, Cookeville Jan Ramsey, Chattanooga Ann Smith, Johnson City Connie S. Weathers, Chattanooga Lee D. Yeiser, Savannah


Anne B. Pope, Executive Director Carol White, Associate Director of Operations Hal Partlow, Associate Director of Grants Suzanne Lynch, Director of Marketing and Development Lee Baird, Grants Monitor and Literary Arts Director Ann Talbott Brown, Director of Arts Education Mike Chambers, IT Director Dr. Robert Cogswell, Director of Folklife William Coleman, Director of Arts Access Dr. Dana Everts-Boehm, Folklife Program Assistant Clare Fernandez, Executive Administrative Assistant Shannon Ford, Director of Community Arts Development Michelle McEwen, Accounting Technician Vickie McPherson, Administrative Service Assistant Jared Morrison, Director of Performing Arts Diane Williams, Director of Grants Management James Wells, Arts Education Projects Coordinator Nan Zierden, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media & Design Arts Tennessee is the news magazine of the Tennessee Arts Commission and is published quarterly. ON THE COVER:

Kingsport Carousel’s Unicorn. See cover story on page 4 Photo courtesty of Kingsport Arts



ast summer, we began a new initiative called the Targeted Arts Development Initiative (TADI). This is a strategy to reach out to counties that have historically been underserved in the Arts Commission’s grants pool. TADI funding is available now and can be applied for through Arts Education Mini-Grants or Arts Education Teacher Incentive Grants. However, applying organizations must reside in or provide services to one or more of the following counties: Giles, Hancock, Johnson, Lake, Lauderdale, Lewis, Marion, Marshall, Meigs, Moore, Obion, Perry, Pickett, Polk, Smith, Stewart, Trousdale, or Wayne No matching funds are required and the maximum request is $1,000. Please review the guidelines for each grant opportunity. The Arts Commission staff will work individually with each grant applicant to assure that the proposed arts activity meets basic evaluation criteria. All TADI projects must be completed by June 30, 2014. Interested organizations should conTennessee Arts Commissiont Ann Brown (ann.brown@ or Hal Partlow (

C REATIVIT Y IN EDUCATION INSTITUTE IS AB O U T MOVING FULL STEA M A HEA D IN EDUCATIO N . STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math plus the Arts— supports an integrated curriculum in which subjects are not taught in isolation. Create2014, an arts integration conference, recognizes the significance of the arts in building 21st century learning skills while shaping whole school reform through project-based learning. Sessions are offered for PK-12 classroom teachers, arts specialists, teaching artists, special education and resource teachers as well as principals and superintendents. Educators come together to understand how subjects like science and engineering connect with arts and design. Let’s move education forward with enthusiasm and determination to provide students with the tools they need for real-world application. Full STEAM Ahead!


L & N STEM Academy 401 Henley Street Knoxville, TN 37902 Free day parking will be available near the conference site.


Monday, June 23rd – 1:00pm – 7:30pm (ET) Tuesday, June 24th – 8:00am – 7:00pm (ET) Wednesday, June 25th – 8:00am – 6:30pm (ET) Thursday, June 26th – 8:00am – 4:30pm (ET) For more information, visit TENNESSEE ARTS | SPRING 2014


Governor Haslam Appoints Chattanooga’s Jan Ramsey as New Board Member to the Tennessee Arts Commission


rs. Jan Ramsey was appointed by Governor Haslam in November of 2013 to represent the 3rd congressional district in the state of Tennessee for the Tennessee Arts Commission. Ramsey grew up in Cheatham County and after graduating high school became a legal assistant in Nashville. She later became a licensed insurance agent and, in 1976, moved to Hamilton County. Ramsey has been active with several civic and non-profit organizations in Chattanooga including the Republican Women’s Club, the PTA, and the Ronald McDonald House. She is presently serving on the Advisory Council for The Next Door Chattanooga and is a member of Bayside Baptist Church. Her husband, Claude Ramsey, is a former Deputy Governor and Hamilton County Mayor. They have two children and five grandchildren. Ramsey said, “I am honored to be appointed by Governor Haslam to serve on the Tennessee Arts Commission. The arts have a very important role to play in the quality of life of our communities and the education of our children. I look forward to being a part of this organization and a member of this board.” Rhea Condra, Chairman of the Board said, “We are excited that Ms. Ramsey has joined the Commission and look forward to having her skills added to the TN Arts Commission.”

Jan Ramsey

Renda Williams Talley Retires After 34 Years of Service


Renda Talley



enda Talley began her career with the Tennessee Department of Revenue, but moved to the Tennessee Arts Commission nine months later. She began working under Art Keeble, then Executive Director, and continued as Administrative Assistant to Bennett Tarleton, Rich Boyd and finally to current Executive Director, Anne Pope. Renda has worked with dozens of commission members over the years, building realtionships with them all. She recalls a fond memory when she had to rescue a new member who was being asked to kindly leave the private luncheon by the Chair who did not know her. Renda chuckles, “I was the only one who had met her before, so I had to step up to correct the situation.” Highlights of her career with the Commission include the Governor’s Arts Awards. “It is wonderful to see the artists recognized. I enjoyed meeting and greeting them,” she said. Renda also has enjoyed the Commission meetings when they were hosted outside of Davidson County. “I was able to see what was going on around the state and the meetings were always graciously hosted by the Commission members, area grantees and arts supporters.” Renda retired December 31, 2013. Anne B. Pope reflects, “Renda had such history with the Arts Commission that she could answer any questions I had for her. She helped me greatly in assuming my role as Executive Director.”

Noted Cookeville Writer Appointed to the Tennessee Arts Commission


Dr. Leo McGee

hen Dr. Leo McGee retired from Tennessee Tech University in 2007, he became a full-time Southern writer with a bucket list that included enhancing his award-winning Hydrangea Garden and visiting the venues of the Grand Slam Tennis Tournaments around the world. Regular tennis players themselves, McGee and his wife have since been to the US and Australian Opens as well toured the tournament grounds of Wimbledon in London and Roland Garros in Paris. This past year, his Hydrangea garden won the 2013 Better Homes and Gardens National Award and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Country Garden Magazine. With his bucket list near completion, McGee was excited to be chosen for the Tennessee Arts Commission. “I was truly honored when Governor Haslam appointed me to serve the citizens across the state of Tennessee in this significant capacity,” said McGee. “I look forward with great anticipation to being a productive board member, representing the 6th Congressional District.” McGee is the author of more than 40 professional articles, 20 creative and opinion essays and has written or co-written five books. One of his creative essays, “Nothing Could Stop My Wife,” was published in Good Housekeeping magazine. Written about his adventures as a house-husband when his wife returned to school, it served as the basis of a television documentary which was produced by Lifetime Cable Network. McGee is also a long-time collector of art depicting African-Americans in the Southern cotton industry. His collection is intended to understand, acknowledge and pay tribute to his ancestors.

A R T S A D V O C A C Y D AY 2 014


t was wonderful to see many familiar faces (and meet some new ones) at this year’s Arts Advocacy Day held on March 5, 2014. The day was a huge success and the Tennessee Arts Commission would like to thank Tennesseans for the Arts (TFTA) for all their time, energy and support. Special thanks to Liza Zenni, out-going president of TFTA for her dedication and commitment to TFTA during her term. Liza is the Executive Director for the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville, a position that demands her full attention, so her investment in TFTA is so appreciated. Liza’s energy is contagious and she is a true leader in moving the arts forward in Tennessee. On that note, the Tennessee Arts Commission welcomes in-coming president, Bonnie Macdonald. Bonnie has worked for the City of Kingsport since 2005 in the Office of Cultural Arts and with the City’s Public Art Program since its creation in 2006. She brings much experience and talent to TFTA’s leadership. Other deeply felt thank-you’s from the day go out to Rhea Condra, chair of the Arts Commission; Stephanie Connor, TFTA and Commission member; Jan Ramsey, Commission member; Patsy Camp, Commission member; Molly Pratt, TFTA member; and Whitney Jo, TFTA member. A huge thank you to Senator Mark Norris whose continued fight in the senate to pass the Specialty License Plate Gift Voucher has succeeded. The Senate and the House has since passed legislation allowing the state to sell gift certificates for specialty license plates.

Senator Mark Norris TENNESSEE ARTS | SPRING 2014




city of Kingsport, Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts and Engage Kingsport in continuing to leverage public and private resources in the arts for the benefit of their community. The carousel is a signature for Kingsport that can be built upon for years to come.” The Carousel is forecasted to build economic development for Kingsport especially around its intended location at the Kingsport Farmers Market, which was previously a blighted area of the city. During the Tennessee Arts Commission Strategic Planning Public Meeting in Gray last November, Kingsport Mayor Phillips said during his panel presentation, “Nothing is more important in economic development than the arts.” Phillips has demonstrated that fact when the City of Kingsport acquired additional land to create an urban park adjacent to the Carousel to be called the Kingsport Carousel Park. With a budget of $400,000 for its development and supporting infrastructure for the carousel, the anticipated opening is scheduled for spring 2014. The facility is expected to attract over 41,000 visitors per year. Additionally to accommodate the park and create a friendlier pedestrian corridor, the City of Kingsport is currently undertaking the re-alignment of Press Street, placing a traffic signal and crosswalks at that intersection. Clinchfield, the adjacent 4-lane street, will have bike lanes and enhanced The carousel’s hand-carved dragon landscaping along that corridor. The carousel has already become a destination Project as its first major project after forming to support and for civic groups, school children and cultural tourism. The expand the work of the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts.  carousel will serve to educate, encourage and inspire the public Engage Kingsport consists of a group of citizens who wished about the regional history and our ability to express ourselves to see a greater interest and involvement in the arts by the through art for generations to come. Bonnie McDonald, director of the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts said, “The carousel community. The all-hand carved wooden animals and chariots will project has already fostered a local ‘creative milleu’ that has be mounted on a 1956 three-row Herschell and the frame of spurred economic growth in creative industries. We believe it the carousel was a gift from the Beardsley Zee of Bridgeport, will advance the potential for neighborhood revitalization by CT. The carousel animals include traditional horses, wild improving community image and status. We believe it will promote animals, a dragon and a unicorn that was carved by Joh’s neighborhood cultural diversity and lead to positive community wife, Valerie Joh. 24 Sweep animals and 24 rounds discs with norms, such as diversity, tolerance and free expression. But most birds from the region complete the carousel’s carvings. Every importantly, it will educate, inspire and entertain.” To date, over 35,000 volunteer hours have contributed to part of the carousel has been adopted by citizens committed to the carousel’s success and almost $75,000 in private dollars the project creating a sense of community pride in the high level of artistic accomplishment and cooperation of so many has been committed to this community art project. Anne B. Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee individuals. For many the collaborative bond that was created Arts Commission said, “The Kingsport Carousel is an has been life-changing. excellent example of how the creative economy is becoming increasingly more valuable to the sustainability and quality Suzanne Lynch is the Director of Marketing and of life in communities across Tennessee. We applaud the Development for the Tennesee Arts Commission


ix years ago, the late Gale Joh had a dream to build a carousel in Kingsport. It became his final wishes to see the project completed when he asked his friend Reggie Martin, to take it over. Martin along with 3 other carvers, who came to be known as the four horsemen, began in earnest with an initial Arts Build Communities (ABC) grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission. Since then, the Arts Commission has awarded the carousel project additional ABC grants. The carousel enlisted 40 carvers and 30 painters who together have almost completed the carousel, which is due to open in the fall. Engage Kingsport adopted the Carousel





s you may now know, a new Arts plate is available for purchase, the first in over 10 years. I have mine because I believe in the enormous positive impact the arts have on the citizens of our state. Many people may not know that in Tennessee when you purchase certain specialty license plates, a portion of the proceeds supports the arts. The Specialty License Plate Program was created in the 1980’s to provide a dedicated revenue source for arts and cultural activities in the state. A specialty license plate costs an additional $35 each year. For the past 8 years, I have proudly served as the Chairman of the Tennessee Arts Caucus along with approximately 46 fellow House and Senate members. The purpose of the Arts Caucus is to promote and help facilitate valuable policy discussion about the importance of the arts as well as to preserve the integrity of the Specialty License Plate program. Specialty License Plate funding provides local arts programing for children and communities distributed through the Tennessee Arts Commission, a state agency. Last year, over 6.1 million dollars was invested in nonprofit organizations, K-12 public schools and artists across the state. For example, since 2011, the Commission’s Student Ticket Subsidy program has given the opportunity to more than 300,000 students to experience the arts by visiting a museum, seeing a play or attending a concert.

Last year, the Commission made grants to over 600 organizations in every region of the state, over half of which were schools. In my district, over 15,000 public school children and organizations such as Sevier County Public Library, the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center and the Appalachian Ballet Company benefited from Specialty License Plate funding. The arts are important to Tennessee. The arts impact communities in many positive ways including quality of life, economic development and tourism as well as providing a more balanced education for our children. So let’s continue to support this vital program. I hope you will consider choosing a specialty license plate. I would recommend the new Arts plate. It not only looks great, but 90% of the proceeds helps fund arts in communities across the state. The new plate will be available at your County Clerk’s office sometime this spring. So join me, and support the arts in Tennessee with an Arts plate. Senator Doug Overbey is R-Blount & Chairman of Arts Caucus Member: 108th General Assembly. Occupation: Attorney at Law Office Address: 307 War Memorial Building, Nashville, TN 37243 Office E-mail: sen.doug. Office Phone: 615-741-0981. Senator Overbey’s Op Ed originally appeared in The Tennessean on December 29, 2013.

Above photo left to right: Leslie Haines, Arts license plate designer, Nashville; Rhea Condra, Chair of Tennessee Arts Commission, Gallatin; Liza Zenni, Outgoing President, Tennesseans for the Arts, Knoxville; Brian Salesky, Executive Director, Knoxville Opera; Representative Curtis Halford, Dyer; Senator Becky Duncan Massey, Knoxville; Incoming President, Tennesseans for the Arts, Bonnie Macdonald, Kingsport; Senator Doug Overbey, Maryville; Anne B. Pope, Executive Director, Tennessee Arts Commission, Nashville. TENNESSEE ARTS | SPRING 2014



By Senator Doug Overbey



s part of its statewide comprehensive strategic planning process, the Tennessee Arts Commission (Tennessee Arts Commission) partnered with local arts agencies across the state to host a series of public meetings. The meetings were meant to provide input at the local level on how the arts can move Tennessee communities forward and how the Tennessee Arts Commission can assist in making that happen. Each of the four meetings attracted over 100 participants from all walks of life at the two hour meetings listed below. • November 20, 2013 - General Shale Brick Natural History Museum Visitor Center and Fossil Site, Gray, TN • November 21, 2013 – Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Chattanooga, TN • December 4, 2013 – Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville, TN • January 13, 2014 – STAX Museum of American Soul Music, Memphis, TN With attendees welcomed by local leaders in each location, meetings consisted of three parts, a brief presentation by Tennessee Arts Commission Executive Director Anne B. Pope on the state of the arts in Tennessee, a moderated panel

Chattanooga Panel discussion of local leaders, and roundtable input sessions for all participants. Tennessee Arts Commission staff and local volunteers captured input from the roundtable discussions for posting on the Tennessee Arts Commission blog post www. . Panel discussions were videotaped for future reference.



Panel Discussions

In consultation with local arts leaders, three to four panelists were invited to participate for each session. They represented a broad range of stakeholders including arts leaders, business leaders, elected officials, and educators from the non-profit, for-profit, public and foundation sectors. In each meeting, the panelists were asked to talk about their perspectives on the arts in their region and why they have invested or participated as they have in the arts. Their comments were interesting and insightful and prompted much follow-up discussion. For a list of panelists from each location see the sidebar on page 9. Panelists in the Tri-Cities area focused on the economic development potential of the area’s cultural heritage and offerings, with Kingsport mayor, Dennis Phillips stating that investing in the arts was one of the smartest strategies a local elected official could pursue for his or her community. Phil Pindzola, Director of the Johnson City Public Works Administration, talked about the power of public art investments to revitalize key urban sites in a town. Richard Rose, Producing Artistic Director of the Barter Theatre, could cite hard data about the sizable economic impact of his regional organization’s arts programming. And the head of a large local business and foundation talked passionately about the role of the arts in opening up potential for lifelong success among children in the area’s remote rural communities. The panel in Chattanooga focused on how the arts are and can make a difference in children’s success in school, and how a vibrant arts and culture scene can help local communities with employee recruitment and satisfaction. The principal of Normal Park, an award winning K-8 elementary school, Jill Levine talked about the public school’s museum magnet theme that fully integrates the arts thoughout the curriculum. Tom White, Sr. Vice President at Unum, stressed the importance of creativity as a qualification for jobs in the knowledge based economy. Dr. Jean Heise, Humanities Supervisor with Knox County Schools, described the Knox County Arts 360 approach to incorporating arts education in all the schools in Knox County. The Middle Tennessee meeting was held in Nashville and much of the panel discussion revolved around the importance of highlighting cultural heritage as a way of helping students succeed, and of helping communities forge an authentic future for themselves. Llonnell Matthews, Metro Coucncilman, suggested ways that arts advocates and local government could better work together on common goals. Dr. Barbara Hodges, Executive Director with Kids for the Creative Arts, talked about how her community based arts program works

Graphics by Ann Coulter

with at-risk-youth. Bo Spessard, Chief Executive Officer and in-house attorney with Emma, described how his firm incorporates creativity into employee work and development, including how employees helped design spaces in the new corporate headquarters. And a small town college president told how art was being used to help reconcile a difficult and divisive part of the community’s past. The location for the Memphis meeting, the STAX Museum of American Soul Music, set the theme for the day as the power of the arts to revitalize urban and rural communities. Gretchen Wollert McLennon, Program Director for the Hyde Foundation, talked about the need for realizing our authentic cultural assets as a framework for taking communities forward. Patsy Camp, TN Arts Commission Member and local arts advocate, detailed the actual dollar value to her community of its arts institutions and programming. Bob Loeb, President of Loeb Properties, described how he was using arts and culture to attract development, business, and new visitors to a core Memphis neighborhood. An arts agency official outlined the impressive graduation and college entry results of students in an enriched performing arts curriculum in Memphis’s urban core.

Roundtable Discussion Input

Prompted by ideas presented in the panel discussions, participants at each table began answering a series of three questions and their input was recorded by individual table facilitators. There was a lot of similarity among input at all four meetings with some regional variations on specific programs and opportunities. How are the arts positively impacting your community? Give specific examples. What can we do beyond funding to get the arts to more

Memphis Panel children in the region? What could we do to help the arts get “a seat at the table” in all Tennessee communities?

Community Impact of the Arts

It was an easy task for participants to list general ways the arts benefit communities. These fell into three areas: the impact of the arts on individuals, on communities or districts, and on economic development of cities and regions. As for individual impacts, many people mentioned the role the arts play in student success, in the development of individual selfexpression and self-confidence, and in the overall quality of life regardless of one’s age. Some of the specific examples given included field trips by schools to arts performances and arts participation programs – Bristol Ballet, the Barter Theatre, Dance Alive in Knoxville, Glass Street Art Camp in Chattanooga, Frist Center programs for young people TENNESSEE ARTS | SPRING 2014


in Nashville, the Oasis Center in Nashville, Carpenter Art Garden in Memphis, the Germantown Performing Arts Center programs, and Urban Art Commission and Memphis Black Arts Alliance program in Memphis. The impacts of the arts on district and community revitalization efforts were frequently mentioned. This kind of impact ranges from general improvement in overall qualities of an area such as enhanced community pride and connectedness to more specific ones of real estate development, increased sales and property tax revenues and improved public facilities. Examples given included the Kingsport Carousel, public art in all regions, revitalized downtown Bristol, Chattanooga’s Southside and Main Street areas, Arts Crawls in Nashville and elsewhere, The Flat Rocks Arts Festival, Cooper Young in Memphis, Overton Park and the Sears Crosstown Developments in Memphis, and McNairy County Arts programs. At a larger scale the arts are seen to have major impacts on cities and their regions in Tennessee. They are what makes Tennessee’s tourism industry among the most varied and vibrant, are helping bring retirees to settle in the state, are helping companies recruit employees from other states and cities and keeping talented people in the state once they are here. Examples given included the Kingsport and Johnson City Symphonies, the Jonesborough storytelling festival, the Blue Grass program at ETSU, the TN Arts Center in Erwin, the Southern Literature Arts Alliance in Chattanooga, Chattanooga’s lively working artist and gallery scene, Cannon County programming, the Nashville Festival of Books, Africa in April Festival in Memphis, and in all four areas of the state the value and impact of music of all types.

More Art for More Children in Tennessee

It was taken as a given in panel and roundtable discussions at all four meetings that arts of all kinds contribute significantly to the success of children in school and later in the work place and other areas of life. Discussions centered 8


on how to increase arts offerings to children in and outside of school environments. Many participants said that parents were an important part of the equation. If parents could be helped to better appreciate the importance of arts education for their children, they would be more effective advocates for the arts as decisions are made by school leaders, elected officials and even the State Department of Education. This could help counteract notions of the arts as non-essential in education and create more opportunities for children to succeed in the arts. A number of comments had to do with broadening our general conception of and marketing of the arts so that it

AT A LARGER SCALE THE ARTS ARE SEEN TO HAVE MAJOR IMPACTS ON CITIES AND THEIR REGIONS IN TENNESSEE. encompasses much more than traditional performing and visuals arts such as art museums and symphonies. The arts are more and more about participating and contributing rather than just consuming and this could advance all the arts and instill greater appreciation of how to incorporate arts in education. It was stated that we need to connect art and creativity to everyday life. A third set of comments were ideas about enhancing the effectiveness of arts educators with additional resources for field trips and hands on experiences for children and for teacher development. A number noted that lack of transportation was a significant limiting factor with regard to providing students with valuable exposure to and participation in the arts. How to advocate more effectively at all levels was also on the minds of participants. This includes helping parents advocate with their children’s schools, training arts agency

Scott Niswonger, President of Niswonger Foundation, Chairman Emeritus Forward Air Corporation, majority shareholder Landair Transport, Inc.

staff and board members to advocate, using data and research as more effective parts of the argument, and urging Tennessee Arts Commission to help at the state level with elected officials and Department of Education officials. Finally, attendees pointed out that lots of organizations work with children out of school, from churches to recreations centers to non-profit organizations and they should be used as full partners in delivering arts education and participation to children. This should include engaging more non-arts agencies in collaborations and partnerships to increase arts offerings to children in all types of settings.

Dennis R. Phillips, Mayor of City of Kingsport, TN

The Arts having a Seat at the Table

Public Strategic Planning Meetings Panel List November 20, 2013 – General Shale Brick Natural History Museum Visitor Center and Fossil Site in Gray, TN

Phil Pindzola, Director of the Public Works Administration at the City of Johnson City, TN Richard Rose, Producing Artistic Director, Barter Theatre, Abingdon, VA November 21, 2013 – Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Chattanooga, TN Dr. Jean Heise, Humanities Supervisor, Knox County Schools, Knox County Jill Levine, Principal, Normal Park Museum Magnet School, Hamilton County Tom White, Sr. Vice President, Investor Relations, Unum, Chattanooga December 4, 2013 – Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville, TN Dr. Ted Brown, President, Martin Methodist College, Pulaski, TN Dr. Barbara Hodges, Executive Director, Kids for the Creative Arts, Murfreesboro, TN Lonnell Matthews, Metro Councilman, Operations Executive, Davidson County School Age Services, YMCA of Middle Tennessee Bo Spessard, Chief Executive Officer, and inhouse attorney, Emma, Nashville, TN January 11, 2014 – STAX Museum of American Soul Music, Memphis, TN Patsy Camp, TN Arts Commission Member, West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation Member and Jackson Arts Council Past President Bob Loeb, President Loeb Properties, Memphis Gretchen Wollert McLennon, Program Director, Authentic Assets and Communications, Hyde Foundation, Memphis Tim Sampson, Communications Director, Soulsville Foundation, Memphis

Three main approaches to increasing the likelihood that the arts would gain a seat at decision making tables around the state were discussed: marketing and public relations efforts, increased use of data and resources to make the case for the value of the arts, and deliberately creating and building relationships with those already at the table at the local and state levels. Participants noted that the arts needed to do a better job of overall marketing and public relations. People will not think

THE ARTS ARE MORE AND MORE ABOUT PARTICIPATING AND CONTRIBUTING RATHER THAN JUST CONSUMING AND THIS COULD ADVANCE ALL THE ARTS AND INSTILL GREATER APPRECIATION OF HOW TO INCORPORATE ARTS IN EDUCATION. the arts need a seat at the table if they are not made aware of why the arts matter and reminded of their benefits. Perhaps there are ways to collaborate more effectively on marketing and to make more use of Tennessee Arts Commission resources to do this. Grass roots arts organizations need basic marketing tips and training. Greater use of research and data that illustrate the bottom line value of the arts to education, to communities, and to the state can go a long way toward making a seat at the table. Economic impact studies can make the case to those not inclined to support the arts when it comes to making decisions about how to use local tax resources. Perhaps the impact of the arts on tourism is the best way to demonstrate the link to arts and state and local revenues. Several participants noted that arts advocates should regularly participate in public hearings and the meetings of governmental bodies to keep the arts and artists present in all public conversations, not just those about the arts.

Ann Coulter moderated all four panels on behalf of the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is Principal of A.Coulter Consulting in Chattanooga, TN. TENNESSEE ARTS | SPRING 2014


A N I TA N O R M A N W I N S T H E 2 014 P O E T RY O U T L O U D N AT I O N A L C H A M P I O N S H I P By Suzanne Lynch


nita Norman, a junior at Arlington High School won first place in the ninth annual National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Poetry Out Loud National Championship on April 30, edging out every other state champion to win the $20,000 grand prize and $500 for her school to purchase poetry books for its library. She will serve as the NEA’s Poetry Out Loud ambassador for the coming year. The competition began with 365,000 participants across the country. The event opened with nine finalists, all state champions who recited two poems each before the field was narrowed to Norman, Natasha Vargas of New Jersey and Lake Wilburn of Ohio. After Norman’s recitation of Hayden’s “Mourning Poem for the Queen of Sunday,” emcee Neda Ulaby, NPR Arts reporter, asked what Norman would remember most about her visit to the capitol. “This trumps everything,” she replied. Norman began competing in 2012 as a freshman. That year, Norman won the Tennessee State championship and made her first appearance at the national competition. In 2013 as a sophomore, Norman came in second place in the state competition. This year, Norman plunged back in again this year and took home the Tennessee State Championship on March 15, 2014. Norman has invested a great deal of herself into getting this far, but also knows she hasn’t done it alone. Norman commented after winning the state championship, “I am so blessed with fantastic parents, and a wonderful teacher who works around the clock with me.” She was coached by her English teacher, Anna Terry who is in her eleventh year of teaching at Arlington High School. Terry says she enjoys helping her students connect with the universal human experience through poetry. The Tennessee Arts Commission is the state arts agency that partners with the NEA and Poetry Foundation to bring Poetry Out Loud to Tennessee. Anne B. Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission commented, “It has been a privilege to watch Anita grow in her performance these past three years. She has such a remarkable talent, but we have also seen her dedication and determination that make her a true champion. We are so proud of her and of all the 8,000 students who competed in the competition across Tennessee.” Norman recited poems by Robert Hayden, Stanley Kunitz and George Moses Horton. “I think there’s a huge difference between memorizing a poem and saying a poem because when you just read it, you connect with the words on a literal level. You may pick up on some of the undertones, but you get this appreciation of the poem when you read it,” said Norman, in an interview after the competition by the NEA’s audio producer, Josephine Reed. “When you start to memorize it, you internalize it. It becomes a part of you and you’re able to take in the words, but you’re also able to add a little bit of yourself to it.” The other national finalists represented high schools from Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, New Jersey, Washington State and West Virginia. A partnership among the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and the state arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Visit to learn more about the competition structure and browse the anthology of poems. Suzanne Lynch is the Director of Marketing and Development of the Tennesee Arts Commission.






aturday, March 15 was a full day of Keats, Burns, Walker and other famous poets’ verses as 20 Tennessee high school students from across the state competed for 2014 Tennessee Poetry Out Loud State Championship. At 2:00 p.m., the official judges’ votes were in and Anita Norman, a junior at Arlington High School took first place. Sidney McCarty was Poetry Out Loud’s first runner-up. She is a sophomore at Clarksville High School. In her words, she loves books and plays and getting her way. She is also excited to recite others’ poetry. Second runner-up, Emily Bass, is a sophomore at Cedar Springs Homeschool and is noted for her spunk and sunny optimistic personality. She is an avid actress, musician, hiker and Jane Austen fan. Finally, the 3rd runner-up was Juliet Lang, a junior at Fairview High School who says she is not of the house of Capulet; in fact she finds the idea of love at first sight to be cliché and insufferable. Her ideal career would be to remain a pirate in Neverland forever.

Photos clockwise from far left: Champion, Anita Norman; Winners, L to R: Sidney McCarty, Emily Bass, Juliet Lang and Anita Norman; Participant Gage Taylor, Baylor School, Chattanooga: Judges (seated), L to R: Rafael Figueroa Salgado, Christopher Burawa, Tahndiwe Shiprah, Alice Roberts, Kiran Singh Sirah and Ethan Castelo.




tennesee arts commission gallery

Latin American Artists Group Show Featuring Rafael Casco October 24, 2013 December 13, 2013, curated by Dana Everts-Boehm, Folklife Program Assistant


Honduran painter from Sevierville, Rafael Casco’s vibrant surrealistic canvases formed the bulk of this group show illustrating the expressive range of Latin American visual artists in East Tennessee. Casco was joined in the show by Mexican artist Hector Saldivar, Puerto Rican painter Luis Velasquez, and fellow Hondurans Dennis Berrios, Ivan Soto, and Fernando Venegas. A reception for this exhibition, entitled “Latin American

Artists Group Show Featuring Rafael Casco,” took place at the Tennessee Arts Commission gallery on November 22, 2013. A contingent of artists in the show and supporters drove out from Knoxville for the occasion, including Rafael Casco, Luis and Loida Velasquez, Hector Saldivar, Dina Ruta, and Angela Weimken. Among the attendees were local Colombian painters Jairo Prado and Jorge Yances and family members.

L-R: Rafael Casco, Carrying Our Roots, Tierra Cielo, Duality. These paintings exemplify Honduran painter Rafael Casco’s striking style, a blending of surrealism with Latin American magical realism rooted in a loving affirmation of nature and its vivid life forms. “I use color and form to help viewers connect with their unconscious minds, reconnecting to our souls,” Casco observes. “By exploring our unconscious and conscious minds, we can master our dreams and be the creators of our own path.”

Visitors to the reception for “Latin American Artists Group Show Featuring Rafael Casco,” which was held at the Tennessee Arts Commission’s gallery on November 22, 2013.


L-R: Mexican artist Hector Saldivar, Loida Velasquez, and Puerto Rican artist Luis Velasquez at the Latin American Group Show reception. While this exhibition primarily featured the work of Honduran artist Rafael Casco, Casco invited Saldivar and Velasquez, in addition to fellow Honduran artists Dennis Berrios, Ivan Soto, and Fernando Venegas to share the gallery space with him. Saldivar’s work – a bust of Frida Kahlo and a painting of figs – is directly behind him.




tennesee arts commission gallery

Photos clockwise from left: Flight Into Egypt, The Virgin watching over the slumber of the Christ Child, Arcangel Rafael.

Clorinda Chávez Galdós Bell: Cuzco School of Religious Art February 13 – March 28, 2014, curated by Dana Everts-Boehm, Folklife Program Assistant



eruvian painter, Clorinda Bell’s paintings exemplify the Cuzco School of Religious Art, a style of Peruvian painting that was introduced to Cuzco by Italian artist/Jesuit monk Bernardo Bitti in the 16th century. His depictions of Catholic iconography functioned as religious education for the indigenous population, who learned through intimate workshops. The most acclaimed Cuzco School painter of the 17th century was an Incan, Diego Quispe Tito. Bell is among modern practitioners of this traditional style. A native of Cuzco, she currently resides in Powell, Tennessee. Bell’s relatives on both sides have carried on this style of painting for generations, and she grew up watching her father and brothers create wonderfully intricate communal canvases in the family workshop. Daring to take up the paint brush at age 11 to participate in what was traditionally a masculine art from, Bell won over her brothers with her talent, becoming one of the first women to work in this genre of painting. Before moving to Tennessee with her American husband, Bell assisted her siblings in painting the family’s communal canvases. Since moving here, her canvases are entirely her own. Members of the Chávez Galdós clan have exhibited in Peru, Chile, Washington D.C. and, now, Tennessee. TENNESSEE ARTS | SPRING 2014 13



tennesee arts commission gallery

Public/Private by Suta Lee December 19, 2013 - February 7, 2014 Curated by Nan Zierden, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media & Design


his body of photographic work by Suta Lee was about the transient nature of being a bystander and the temptations of voyeurism. A passenger, a tourist or a local person can flow from one type to another seamlessly. Each person is alone in public but maintaining a small private space—a bubble if you will—that moves with him. These moments are fascinating and intriguing to the artist. He continues to develop this series by going to different public areas to document people in those environments. The portraits are from Trafalgar Square in London, San Marco Square in Venice, and Times Square in New York. Suta Lee has a Master of Fine Art in Painting from Cornell University. He has exhibited work around the country and is in many private and public collections including the Tennessee State Museum. Currently, he teaches painting and digital photography at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.



Photo: Untitled.


tennesee arts commission gallery

Baxwin’s Best by Denice Bizot Thursday, April 3 through May 30, 2014 Curated by Nan Zierden, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media & Design



urrently on exhibit is the work of Denice Bizot from Chattanooga. She has been a professional sculptor for 12 years. Born in New Orleans, Bizot graduated from Loyola University, earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 2001. Most recently her works have been collected by Catherine Zeta Jones, Volkswagon Chattanooga and West Point, as well as corporate collections in Amsterdam, Houston, Manhattan and New Orleans. Creating treasures from discarded metals intrigues Bizot. She spends hours searching through junk and muddy slosh pits to hunt down interesting shapes—some suitable for assemblages, others for torching. “Metal recycle centers have become my favorite haven. While massive machines are busy crushing cars and churning old washing machines into delightful forms, I’m assessing the potential of car hoods, drum lids, shovels and twisted sheets of steel to be carted back to studio to continue the transformation into sculpture.” The title of the show, Baxwin’s Best, refrences the name of the scrap metal center Bizot frequents. Every piece of metal is pierced using a hand-held plasma torch by Bizot without assistants. “I would like to thank my friend Dave, an art patron and business owner, for allowing me to prowl his recycle center to continue my passion for sculpting.”

Photos clockwise from top: Bizot exhibit in gallery, Seismic Bling, REDdy go .



Six Characteristics to Successful Arts and Rural Economic Development Efforts By Shannon Ford “I’m not aware of too many things. I know what I know, if you know what I mean.”


ith this refrain, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians began the song “What I Am,” an anthem for simplicity, honesty, and common sense that has helped me in both my personal and professional life since I was a teen. (And yes, I know I am dating myself, and I am happy to own my middle age.) As a staff member of the Tennessee Arts Commission, I’ve assisted people from rural places with packaging their hopes, dreams, and aspirations into proposals that anticipate skeptical questions and outline the community benefits to be achieved. It’s my job as a grants administrator and steward of public dollars to think how to economize and get the largest return from small investments, since our grants often represent a fraction of the funds raised for any given constituent’s project or operational budget. What makes my job rewarding is that I work for a state full of incredibly talented artists and administrators who continually innovate and show me how to squeeze grant dollars for every ounce of public value possible. My job has also afforded me the privilege of speaking to teachers, public officials, and community boosters who believe that the arts are good for students, seniors, downtowns, tourism, as well as plenty of other groups and initiatives. However, sometimes they don’t know what to say or do to persuade movers, shakers, and/or non-believers. In particular, they express frustration that the arts are kept on the fringes of discussions about moving their communities strategically forward, or that the arts are perceived as expendable amenities, rather than as essential forces of positive change. I’m not aware of too many magic bullets for incorporating the arts into rural economic development, but I know to look for six characteristics from constituents who’ve been successful. 1) Clarity of Goals – A plan is not a plan without an end in mind. If you want to do something, then be clear about the intended effects it will have on your community. A vehicle for reaching your community goals could be opening an arts center, or organizing a festival, or starting a gallery crawl, but those activities won’t have short-term or longterm effects without an expressed purpose. So your goals need to be clear, logically related to the means for achieving them, and attainable. Be very aware that if you are pitching your project or program as a component of economic development, then one of your long-term goals must be to generate revenue. Whatever form it takes – income for local artists, new business for the hospitality industry, a bump in the county tax rolls – it is important to show how economic 16


benefits will accrue to the community at large. 2) Sustainability – Whatever project or initiative is proposed, it must be sustainable, meaning that the assets, resources, and talent necessary already exist (or can be procured/developed easily); that the costs associated with starting up won’t exhaust community reserves of human, financial, and social capital; and that the project and or initiative would not be easily and economically replaced by other enterprises to achieve the same goals. Wellarticulated goals that lay out how cultural, social, and economic community benefits are generated will help show that the arts achieve ends that commercial development alone cannot. 3) Evaluation – To truly show how your project or initiative is sustainable and makes progress toward the stated goals, you must measure and document the impact on the community. This is not a task to be undertaken at the tailend of executing a plan but should be considered in tandem with generating clear goals. Ask yourself and your fellow planners what success (and failure) would look like, as well as what types of measurements and indicators capture the imagination of policymakers and investors in your project. The narrative you want to tell is a human story, one in which community members’ lives are better as demonstrated and supported with measurable, relevant data. 4) Visibility & Partnerships – This narrative becomes important for achieving visibility and building partnerships. While these are in many ways interdependent, achieving visibility in areas that are underserved, under-resourced, sparsely populated, with limited communication networks is challenging but needed work. Building relationships and helping people understand their personal stake in economic development goals are crucial to acquiring the needed grassroots and political support to forge mutually beneficial partnerships. Partnerships that can in turn offer pooled resources, logistical solutions, a diversity of ideas and perspectives, as well as more stakeholders. 5) Authenticity – Finally, whatever is attempted, whether your project preserves traditions, breaks new ground in your community, or intensifies work that is already being done, there must be authenticity. No good ever came of ignoring your community’s cultural context or norms, and rural perspectives have a long history of being ignored. Just don’t do it. After writing this blog posting, I realize that I am providing the same advice that I give to constituents applying for our grants. I know what I know. You know what I mean? Shannon Ford is the Director of Community Arts Development for the Tennessee Arts Commission. This article was originally published on

Tennessee Arts, Spring2014  

Tennessee Arts is a quarterly newsletter published by the Tennessee Arts Commission. A state agency, the Tennessee Arts Commission's missio...

Tennessee Arts, Spring2014  

Tennessee Arts is a quarterly newsletter published by the Tennessee Arts Commission. A state agency, the Tennessee Arts Commission's missio...