The Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts) is an inaugural member of the “Leading Organizations” Pilot, a diverse national coalition of arts organizations dedicated to sharing ideas that build stronger communities through the arts.
The “Leading Organizations” Pilot, created by Creative Exchange in Minneapolis, Minn., will develop toolkits, based on successful, community-specific programs, that will assist cities that look to replicate the program in their individual communities.
“Metro Arts is a learning organization. By working with peers across the country we can both share our best practices and learn how other communities are empowering artists as change agents,” says Jennifer Cole, executive director of Metro Arts.
Other organizations included in the pilot program are the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Macon Arts Alliance of Macon, Ga., Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana in San Jose, Calif., and Springboard for the Arts, Creative Exchange’s parent organization in St. Paul, Minn.
“We recognize that many communities need more resources to creatively address local economic, social and cultural challenges, and that these organizations and the communities they serve can be strengthened by the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and resources,” says Laura Zabel, executive director of Springboard for the Arts.
Zabel says “Leading Organizations” is Creative Exchange’s next steps to highlight and connect the movement of local arts and culture on a national scale. Although “Leading Organizations” members represent geographically broad communities of different sizes, with diverse populations and unique histories, each member is engaged in arts-focused community development and engagement work.
“These are organizations supporting artists in their communities, creating new opportunities and acting as bridges and connection points in broader community conversations. They believe, as we do, that artists are a creative force in each neighborhood, and can help us step up and creatively face the challenges of our times,” Zabel notes.
Cole says Metro Arts was selected to participate because “because of our focus on the development of artists as community placemakers through efforts like our public art bicycle-rack program and the THRIVE microfund project.”
Throughout the next year, the “Leading Organizations” members will share ideas and working practices to strengthen each other’s work. Creative Exchange will publish stories about artists with impact in their communities and will collaborate to develop shareable toolkits from the Leading Organizations’ proven, effective programming.
*Artwork and photo of Jennifer Cole courtesy the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission.