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April 2020 THRIVE Projects Bring Nashvillians Together from the Safety of Home

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

On April 3, Metro Arts convened a special Board of Commissioners meeting to reallocate $50,000 in operational funds to provide a new round of THRIVE grants to artists whose projects uplifted, supported and connected the Nashville community while adhering to safer-at-home social distancing recommendations.

The approved projects allowed Nashvillians to take dance classes, try out their improv comedy skills, participate in a writing workshop, attend virtual concerts, and gather a little inspiration from spoken word poetry and music, just to name a few!

Take a look at these projects, follow the artists and organizations on social media, and mark your calendars to virtually attend their classes and programs and watch for their completed projects. We’ll keep this page and our events calendar updated as we continue to award THRIVE funds.

(Update: all live projects have concluded, but many are still available and linked below for you to view and experience!)

Approved as of April 10:

  • Elisheba Mrozik's Nashville Strong coloring and activity book will teach and inspire through fun, uplifting images of Nashville and its neighborhoods and people. The book is available in digital form as well as in print for distribution in coming months. View, download and print the coloring book or its individual pages, and watch this space for information on the forthcoming printed books!

  • Unscripted improv group is offering free Zoomprov Breaks for people with any level of improv experience, allowing people to meet, connect, laugh and create something together at a time when we are so isolated. Learn more on their website and join Zoomprov Breaks on Facebook. (Update: Zoomprov breaks are continuing! Learn more on Unscripted's website.)

  • Bel Stuart will create The Mumu Memoirs, a theatre-meets-documentary styled piece based on and portrayed by twelve Nashville women navigating their recovery from the March 3 tornado and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The stories will be told through monologues, selfie-style confessionals, spoken word and song. (Update: learn more and view the film below or at Poppy and Pimento!)

  • Cremona Strings Ensemble Too provides free youth string music lessons via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime each Saturday. (Update: this series of lessons has concluded.)

  • Saran Thompson hosted the Speak Life Writing Workshop, a series of five online writing workshops open to anyone in the Nashville area, focused on the idea of speaking life and positivity during such dire times. These writing sessions are meant to help people in a cathartic fashion. The topics will focus on personal peace, happiness, community, family, and perseverance. RSVP at Speak Life and Write for a Zoom meeting invitation. (Update: this program has concluded.)

  • Pam Marlene Taylor is curating the Stay Home Gallery, a virtual gallery created to exhibit work by Womxn Artists who are practicing social distancing. The gallery releases a curated exhibition every Friday with themes that respond to our new realities. Follow @StayHomeGallery on Instagram to view each week's exhibition and to learn how to submit artwork for consideration.

  • X-Contemporary Dance Studio hosted free, interactive dance classes via Zoom with real-time feedback, allowing participants to experience a real dance class from the safety of home. (Update: view "Connecting Through Isolation," featuring original music and choreography from X-Contemporary Dance, below.)


Approved as of April 17:

  • Visual artist XPayne has created two billboard murals to uplift the East and North Nashville communities impacted by the March 3 tornado, featuring inspirational takes on the lyrics “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Ooh child, things will be brighter.”

  • Teaching artist Emily Sue Laird’s “D.I.Y. Not?” visual art educational video series brings upbeat, easy, accessible art classes to people of all ages and abilities, making use of easily accessible or reused household items. Subscribe to Emily's YouTube channel to watch and learn!

  • Photographer Justin Harvey documented the recovery of members of the Nashville community from the March 3 tornado through his project, “TNTwister: Stories of Us,” a combination of photography and interviews telling “the story of our city's resiliency, compassion, and highlight the things about us that no force of nature can destroy.” View the images and read the subjects' answers at Justin's website.

  • Early Music City performed “Baroque and Beyond” composite, virtual concerts for the public, combining early instrumental music with unique musical styles, including one with undergraduate singers from Tennessee State University.

  • Michael Mallicote’s NashVirtual Concert Tour offers viewers a three-part virtual reality concert series from Nashville venues, to be enjoyed with a purchased or D.I.Y. VR headset, allowing the public a well-rounded concert experience from the safety of home. Audience members without VR headsets can still explore the 360-degree experience through their web browsers. Watch all three concerts on the Nash Virtual Concert Tour Facebook page.

  • The Shelby Bottom Duo, Michael August and Nell Levin, performed an at-home, live-streamed concert of their Joe Hill Road Show, originally scheduled for the Darkhorse Theatre. Inspired by Hill, considered a martyr of the Industrial Workers of the World, and referencing the 1918 flu pandemic, the show will uplift, support and connect Nashville during this challenging time.

  • Artist Amanda DownsLegacy of Hope class series focused on creating an uplifting piece of art inspired by the resilience of our community, provide free instruction on on the topics of inspiration/ concept, color planning, sketching, shading, and painting, with a final project share.

  • Delgado Guitars produced six video classes on the craft of luthiery, songwriting, and the importance of music appreciation to share through their YouTube and social media channels.

Approved as of April 24:

  • Musician Abigail Flowers will provide one-on-one online instruction in ukulele (standard or baritone) and/or music theory for up to 10 students each week from May 11th through June 7th. For more information or to schedule a lesson, email (Update: these lessons have concluded.)

  • Visual artist Beth Reitmeyer's "We Lift Our Eyes" project encourages Nashvillians to connect through uploading their photographs of clouds and/or the sky with the hashtag #weliftoureyesNashville. The different perspectives of our shared sky will later be made into physical fiber art installations. View the gallery and submit your photos at

  • Friends Life Community, who serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, used THRIVE funding to shift their robust schedule of visual art classes online, protecting teaching staff and students while keeping their population engaged and learning from home.

  • Recording and performing artist Stephcynie Curry's song Rise is inspired by the effects of COVID-19 and the Middle Tennessee tornado on her and the Nashville community. Listen below or on Stephcynie's SoundCloud.

Bryce McCloud at Isle of Printing created "Preparing for a Socially Distanced Future," a project that invites neighbors and community members to share thoughts and connect via postcards. View the images in their gallery, and contribute your own thoughts or postcard at

Studio engineer and musician Rick Johnson translated his Beats and Bars interactive music event business into online music production classes. These classes have concluded, but you can keep up with future Beats and Bars events on their website.

Playwright, creative writer and performing artist Taria Person created "Storm: A Hip-Hop Folk Exploration of the Tornadoes of 2020," inspired by the home and garden of her great-grandparents.

Learn more about THRIVE, including the guidelines and application process, at!

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