Nashville’s Smallest Arts Nonprofit Just Got The Biggest Metro Funding Boost

Jun 27, 2016

After several years of unsuccessful lobbying, Nashville’s arts organizations are celebrating a boost in Metro government funding. Every group that was approved for a grant will get more this year — with some increases of 50 percent, 100 percent, or even 300 percent.

That largest boost (by percentage) goes to Choral Arts Link, a nonprofit singing education program for students in second through 12th grades.

“Without the (Metro) funding, we don’t get to do this type of program,” said founder Margaret Campbelle-Holman.

The former school teacher created her choir and low-cost summer youth academy nearly 20 years ago and has pursued grants for about a decade.

This year’s increase will take Choral Arts Link from $1,525 to $6,060. While the dollar figure is modest, Campbelle-Holman said it’s a monumental change that will mean more families can receive discounts to attend.

“Especially middle school students,” she said. “We have many parents with multiple siblings in this group. If it wasn’t for Metro Arts Commission Funding … we wouldn’t be able to have two and three children per family.”

Margaret Campbelle-Holman founded Choral Arts Link.
Credit Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

In all, nearly 40 organizations will benefit from the Metro Council’s last-minute $300,000 increase for the arts, which followed a campaign led by the Nashville Arts Council and voiced through public hearings. The total amount of grants will be nearly $2.2 million. (See the full list of recipients.)

Until this round of budgeting, Metro Arts Director Jen Cole had lobbied unsuccessfully for more money. She said Nashville arts spending had fallen behind similar cities.

And while the population grew, and nonprofits tried to serve more families, funding was stagnant.

“You have this kind of double whammy, where organizations are growing to serve a bigger, more diverse Nashville. And even with flat funding, technically their resources are going down from Metro, because more (nonprofits) are coming into the pool,” Cole said.

Sue Hall (left) and Karen Mueller teach second and third graders at the MET Summer Academy.
Credit Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

While all recipients will see an upward adjustment, Cole said the Metro Arts Commission allotted the largest and “most profound” changes to nonprofits with budgets less than $250,000.

Largest grant increases (percentage)

  • Choral Arts Link (+ 297%)
  • Moves & Grooves (+ 214%)
  • Southern Word (+ 95%)
  • Global Education Center (+ 62%)
  • Tennessee Craft (+ 44%)
  • Nashville Rep (+ 40%)
  • Nashville Shakespeare Festival (+ 36%)
  • Nashville Jazz Workshop (+ 30%)
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