March 2018

WORDS Peter Chawaga

Since the 1940s, the Nashville Sign has stood at the forked intersection of Broadway and West End Avenue, bringing billboard advertisements to countless Nashvillians on one of the city’s main thoroughfares.

Since New Year’s Eve in 2015, the sign has been a dynamic, 34×36-foot digital LED screen, rotating advertisements in bright lights. And since 2016, Nashville Arts Magazine has curated the sign’s “Artist of the Week” feature, which displays five works from a particular artist along with the rotation of paid advertisements.

Though a relatively new program in the long history of the Nashville Sign, the Artist of the Week represents what has always been a critical tenet for the display.

“It has always been a priority of ours to keep interesting, community-driven content on the board,” explains Erica Bussell, director of sales and marketing for Blackbird Media, the sign’s management and sales agent. “Ultimately though, Artist of the Week is important because it helps us connect with our community and uphold our promise to keep fresh, interesting content on the billboard.”

Nashville Arts Magazine selects an artist and collects five of their pieces on behalf of the sign. Hayley Madden of the Blackbird Media team formats each graphic to fit accordingly and schedules the art, along with the web address of the gallery where it is displayed, to run from Monday through Sunday. Each graphic appears on the board for eight seconds and can be seen once every eight minutes. Blackbird Media estimates that over 100,000 people see the artwork this way every week.

“The response to having art displayed on the Nashville Sign has been incredible,” says Rebecca Pierce, managing editor of Nashville Arts. “Artists love seeing their work shown on such a large scale, and the galleries also like seeing their artists featured so prominently against the Nashville skyline. Several times, people who have seen art that they like on the sign have called us to find out where to see more of the artist’s work.”

In addition to featuring the artists on the sign, Blackbird promotes them through its social media channels and has found those posts to be its most popular. The agency is currently seeking a sponsor company to join the Artist of the Week program, but in the meantime, it has been happy to give local artists a platform and local residents more access to art.

“I really hope the fact that Artist of the Week is on Nashville’s largest out-of-home advertising space shows that we are committed not only to local art but to the improvement and beautification of the city,” says Bussell.

For more information on the Nashville Sign please contact www.bbirdmedia.com or info@nashvillearts.com.

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