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Nov 12th 2015 | Joe Smith

Nashville Arts: Not Because It's Easy

This isn't going to be easy. The obstacles are numerous and difficult to keep in focus. The path toward success is constantly changing. There is way too much to lose, way too little allotted and many many feelings to hurt. When there are results they are few and far between and when we show up in budgets it is at 0.13%. It seems hopeless and with the cost and risks involved is it any wonder we ever take on such a task.


The wonder is our resolve and our cohesion. Nashville keeps creating and doing so together. From inside the ranks it looks as though nothing can stop our steady progress toward becoming the a city where artists can not only do their art but thrive doing it.

The facts are that obstacles and challenges weigh heavily on this task. At every turn an arts proposal is seen as too risky. There is often no clear path toward profitability so banks, sponsors, venturists, entrepreneurs, municipalities, angels, benefactors and mattress money tend to stay away from the arts. Too often an artist and their organizations are seen as 'starving'. The ROI just doesn't add up when projecting budgets.

I say project further out and closer in. The long term effects of arts training, art installations, and artist's infusion into a society is one of a very long term value. This city is ranked second most vibrant creative city in the US, and this is no fluke. Maybe the music industry's presence made us so creatively inclined but artists are emerging from within as well as flocking toward Nashville. Artists are finding nooks and crannies of commercial real estate to setup shop and collaboratives. Groups of artists are gathering each month for support, and shared knowledge. And the works they are making keep getting better and keep getting more collectible.

Looking closer you may notice that artists are very difficult to satisfy, hard on themselves, change their minds sometimes three times in one day, and are notoriously opinionated. But this is the artist's investment. They risk everything. It isn't simply a matter of losing some cash, or a piece of property. Artists give their emotions, their heart, soul, and even their body to the goal of creating a reflection of themselves. How do we place value on this? How can we turn away from these expressions?

How do we create not only a vibrant creative city but one in which artists thrive?

Risk. Our art and our artists are worth our investment. Artists are taking a leap every day they create. Let us, as a city, as a people, risk on their behalf.
Stay together. This community is uniquely supportive and is a resource in and of itself. Join, show up, engage and stay in touch.
Celebrate the smallest wins. Artists may be moody and opinionated but they all love to celebrate a creative triumph. Applaud loudly, congratulate fiercely, and pay generously when art moves you.
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