by Ann Talbott Brown
Director of Arts Education, Tennessee Arts Commission
350! This is the number of Student Ticket Subsidy (STS) grants awarded to schools throughout Tennessee to date for the 2017–2018 school year. STS is a grant program that provides funds for artist fees, tickets, and transportation for students from Tennessee public schools to experience a broad variety of cultural opportunities, arts disciplines, and artists. STS funds are awarded to schools in all of the state’s 95 counties, which means principals, teachers, parents, and other community members recognize the value of arts learning opportunities— both in-depth and exposure-based—to engage, teach, and inspire our students.
What’s more is the network of 140 arts and cultural organizations and teaching artists on the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Teaching Artist Roster that is essential in providing these experiences. A project funded by the STS grant varies depending on the needs and interests of the school. If we look at what is taking place in the month of October in Metro Nashville Public Schools, Cockrill Elementary and Tusculum Elementary are hosting the Nashville Ballet for in-school performances of Aesop’s Fables, which weaves popular fables such as The Tortoise and the Hare and The Wind and the Sun to teach children dance and literary arts. Global Education Center, which has its own roster of over 100 artists representing 40 different cultures, is working with Granbery Elementary to provide the Passport to Understanding Assembly, which uses the arts to develop empathy, understanding, and respect for the individual and humanity.
McGavock High School is bringing in Elizabeth Davidson, a professional actress of 40 years, to perform a one- woman play titled Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Literary Soldier based on the author’s life, letters, and famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. A group of secondary schools including Stratford, Nashville Big Picture, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet, Lead Academy, MLK Magnet, and Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet are partnering throughout the school year with Southern Word to build literacy and presentation skills during spoken-word residencies often aligned with relevant classroom topics or specific literary devices.
Whether the project occurs for one day or over the course of a school year, artists are sparking the imaginations and interests of students to learn and grow within and through the arts. Educators from these schools are making this possible. STS funds are still available in many Tennessee counties.
For more information, visit tnartseducation.org.