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A REAL First: 2021/2022 Cohort Projects

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Congratulations to the ten Racial Equity in Arts Leadership (REAL) 2021/22 Cohort members whose project proposals were approved at the March 17, 2022, Arts Commission meeting!

About REAL

Racial Equity in Arts Leadership (REAL) is a learning cohort and research partnership between Metro Arts and the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. Originally convened in 2015, this re-launched learning series is back by popular demand with some updates to the program’s structure, including a new project phase funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

REAL’s current cohort of arts leaders have met since September 2021 for lectures, readings, workshops, and discussions about race and class inequities. Their season will conclude with training from Crossroads Antiracism and Training, and selected cohort members will continue to meet for project design and implementation support through the spring and summer of 2022.

Project Descriptions - at their March 17 meeting, the Metro Arts Board of Commissioners approved the following projects from REAL cohort members.

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM)​ will create the OURStory Project, an eight-week program for four interns in partnership with Tennessee State University and Fisk University. OURStory will provide students of color an opportunity to explore career pathways related to museum management and nonprofit management through a focus on arts and culture at NMAAM.

The Country Music Hall of Fame​ and Museum will partner with Crossroads Antiracism and Training to involve approximately fifty staff members in a one-day antiracism training, increasing the percentage of their staff with antiracism education and applying that knowledge to exhibits and programming.

Turnip Green Creative Reuse will work alongside antiracism experts to create a TCGR workshop framework to pilot in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. Creation and Conversation in Antiracism will engage BIPOC artists and community leaders in the workshop creation process with the goal of creating a sustainable system for ongoing workshops.

Southern Word will develop a DEI Workplace Writing Workshop, building a new curriculum that expands Southern Word’s model while addressing issues of equity that may arise in the workplace. Piloting the curriculum in four two-hour Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) writing workshops for Nashville businesses, Southern Word’s goal is that the curriculum will be a resource for businesses to improve company culture around DEI areas.

Kindling Arts will fund a BIPOC Curatorial Partner for Kindling Arts Festival 2022, holding an open application process for BIPOC producers and arts administrators, with the goal of developing a deep and meaningful relationship with a new curatorial partner while supporting new projects and performances by local artists and performance-makers.

The Frist Art Museum’s Project Uplift will coordinate an internship for a student from an historically black colleges or university (HBCU) that focuses on curating, designing, marketing a programming a micro exhibition by a local BIPOC artist, with the goal of the intern’s experiencing the full scope of the behind-the-scenes exhibition process and developing an interest in museum and arts careers, as well as nurturing the HBCU intern and the local BIPOC artist while moving the Frist’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI) mission forward, helping their internal demographic match the community they serve.

The Nashville Ballet will develop the Adult Adaptive Dance Pilot Class Project, a curriculum of adaptive dance and twice-weekly classes at the Ballet for adults in partnership with Friends Life Community, as well as opportunities for the participants to perform with other School of Nashville Ballet students.

OZ Arts Nashville will conduct the DEIA STEAM Exploration Project, a two-day intensive for Nashville-based teaching artists to examine arts education, providing spaces and resources for professional, majority-BIPOC teaching artists.

Alex Wong will partner with CAAN, CMHOF, TIRRC, Hatch Show Print, API MID TN, The Quiet Voice Fund and SHEECO to create the first annual SHOW YOURSELF FESTIVAL, a celebration of Asian-American artists and creatives and their contributions to Nashville’s cultural landscape.

Nashville Repertory Theater will create the Nashville Anti-Racist Theatre Collaboration Project, a set of antiracist policies and practices outlining harm reduction, harm prevention, and relationship repair policies, with the goal of impacting all theatrical artists working professionally in the Nashville area, fostering safer workplaces and providing more access to roles, staff and leadership positions for BIPOC Nashville theatre artists.

Learn more about REAL at our website, and contact Equity and Restorative Practices manager Natalie Alfaro Frazier ( for more information.

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