October 2016

by Caroline Vincent Director of Public Art

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Learning Lab artist participants chat over lunch during a training session

This summer 25 Nashville-based artists have been on a journey with Metro Arts. We took one assumption: that communities work better with artists at their core and that collaborative partnerships including artists can make our city better. From that we built a program, with expert guidance from the Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP) and the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville (ABC), that investigates the various ways artists can work in community. Michael Rohd of CPCP says, “At this moment, artists around the nation are working alongside publics to build healthier, more equitable communities. Art is no longer limited to object and event—art can be a tool; art can be a process. Artists are redefining what they can create, how they create, with whom, and for what purposes.” One of the community partners participating in the Learning Lab, Pearl Sims of the Edgehill Coalition, said, “It has been a very long time since I was so invigorated about discussing the needs of our neighborhood. The artists that worked with me were amazing, and they gave me hope for the citizens of our city.”

At the next training session, workshops centered around learning the basics of a public practice. Participants heard from public practice artists Mel Ziegler of Nashville and Isaac Duncan of Chattanooga. In addition, there were workshops on Communicating Effectively About Your Work presented by poet and social practice artist Stephanie Pruitt, Common Legal Considerations for Public Art by Casey Summar of the Arts and Business Council, and Collaborations, Deep Listening Skills and Conflict Management led by CPCP’s Rebecca Martinez.

Next up, participating artists apply for funding to conduct a community-based project. For more information and updates on the Learning Lab, please visit publicart.nashville.gov.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Learning Lab is a program of Metro Arts in partnership with the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice.

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