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Murals, Music, Cabaret and Community

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

FY22 Thrive Projects Engage the Community in a Broad Range of Artistic Practices to Heal, Learn and Celebrate

At their September meeting, the Metro Arts Board of Commissioners approved eleven projects for funding for the first cycle of Thrive for FY 2022.

Metro Arts’ Thrive is a funding program that connects artists, organizations and residents to create transformation and investments within communities. By offering funding outside of the traditional grants process, Thrive gives greater access to artists and organizations to build, strengthen and cultivate communities in Davidson County.

In this cycle of Thrive, artists and artist teams could apply for community-based art projects, with a maximum funding amount of $9,500. The eleven approved projects below will receive funding totaling $101,820. Join us in congratulating our Cycle 1 artists and teams!

Please note: applications are open now for the next cycle of Thrive, our Community Practice Artist Incubator! Learn more and apply by October 25 at


Rick Johnson, via

The Blueprint Project: Laying the Foundation for a Successful Career in Music

Lead artist Rick Johnson will partner with Nashville is Not Just Country music to “cultivate community through creative expression and collaborative engagement making music.” Designed to serve the 9th-12th grade students of Davidson County, The Blueprint Project aims to complement and enrich the music creation process and business understanding and practices of students. The project will consist of interactive, music business consulting workshops and recording sessions where participants will work together in small groups; a Nashville Is Not Just Country Music networking mixer; and a culminating Nashville Is Not Just Country Music Urban Songwriters Round.

Creative Girls Rock Mobile Mural Project

Lead artist Donna Woodley will partner with Creative Girls Rock (CGR) for the Mobile Mural Project, designed to teach women the proper tools and methods of creating a mural painting. The project will utilize a double-sided mobile mural campus that can move to different locations. All workshops will be held at the Creative Girls Rock & One Drop Ink Art Gallery in North Nashville. Participating artists will be required to create a mural within their community using the resources provided through the CGR Mobile Mural Project.

Artist, dance scholar and choreographer Rossi A. Turner. Photograph via Pride Publishing Group.

Music City Jubilee

For this project, lead artist Rossi Turner will partner with Dream 7 Theater Productions, Casa Azafran and the Z. Alexander Looby Theater to present a musical stage production of Music City Jubilee to a live audience. Music City Jubilee is a lyrical story about the trials and triumphs of Nashville’s own original Fisk Jubilee Singers. This project combines African-American history and the Performing Arts and will recruit youth from Haynes Middle School, Head Magnet Middle School, Rose Park Community Center and the Looby Community Center. Musical Theatre workshops will be offered to the community prior to the performances.

Gilda’s Club’s Expressive Arts Cancer Support Program

Lead artist Jennifer Wilkins will partner with Gilda’s Club of Middle Tennessee to present Expressive Arts Cancer Support programming to individuals with cancer and their family members. This will include twice daily art programming in their dedicated Expressive Arts room and online. Classes such as instructor-guided acrylic and watercolor painting encourage creativity, conversation, and relationship-building, while self-portrait scrapbooking and journal painting promotes emotional expression. Quilting clubs, woodworking and jewelry workshops are also off

Artist Ashley Mintz's examples of a life map, left, and an art journal, right.

Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going: Voicing Stories Untold While Watching New Ones Unfold

Partnering with FiftyForward, Looby Community Center and Watkins Park Community Center, lead artist Ashley Mintz will provide writing and art-making workshops to youth and senior adults, focusing on creativity and telling one’s story. In Ashley’s words, “What I would like to do is show youth how to keep dreaming and create their own story and to show seniors how to come back to the dreamer in them and to have a tangible way of recreating their memories and to have something to revisit.” Workshops with youth will focus on mixing visual arts and collage with elements of performance art, encouraging students to broaden their thoughts on what their futures could look like. Workshops with seniors will focus on visual storytelling, creating a life map storybook by engaging in writing exercises and prompts to pinpoint significant times in each person’s life.

Above: scenes from Tall Tales, a previous project from artists in the Genderbend project.

Genderbend: The Naughty Tree and Heroic Couplets

Lead artist Daniel Jones will partner with Kindling Arts Festival, Woven Theater Company and Defy Film Festival for Kindling’s Genderbend initiative, comprised of two interdisciplinary projects developed in collaboration with local colleague organizations: THE NAUGHTY TREE [working title], a queer-rock cabaret retelling of the Garden of Eden story presented in collaboration with Woven Theater Company, and HEROIC COUPLETS, an interdisciplinary collection of 8 unique poetry into film projects featuring works by LGBTQIA+ and women writers and filmmakers co-presented with Defy Film Festival. These two new works will result in the presentation of an original, invigorating live theatrical experience that is uniquely Southern and intentionally queer, and the debut of a collection of short films that center the voices of women and LGBTQIA+ artists in an art form where opportunities for these populations are often limited. Kindling estimates that 27 or more artists will have the opportunity to showcase work through these two new works.

Left: site of the future Paragon Mills mural. Right: examples of artist Nuveen Barwari's work.

Paragon Mills Elementary and Community Mural

Lead artist Nuveen Barwari and supporting artist Woke3 will work with partners at Freedom Arts Collective to bring a community mural to Paragon Mills Elementary School. Students, artists and Paragon Mills art teacher Bobbilyn Negron will co-lead local residents and leaders from the Kurdish, Black and Latinx communities through a visioning process to create a culturally relevant mural. A community grand opening day will be held during which local businesses, neighbors and other stakeholders will be invited to join students in completing the mural. Other activities, such as food stands, neighborhood and community vendors, and kids’ and family activities will be part of the event.

Above: examples of Andrés Bustamante's previous art installations.

Jardines de Color/Colorful Gardens

With partners Persona Contemporary artist collective and Merengue Café, lead artist Andrés Bustamante’s project focuses on the healing process of creative play, creating opportunities to heal from the recent traumas of COVID-19 in immigrant and minority communities. Jardines de Color will be a series of abstract contemporary public art installations, informed by input gathered via online workshops from the Southeast Nashville and Antioch communities on colors, emotions, shapes, sizes and placement.

Artist Kristen Chapman.

Let Me Tell You: Stories of Resilience and Belonging

For phase one of her project, over the course of two day-long workshops and small group meetings, lead artist Kristen Chapman will work with artists at Poverty and the Arts on storytelling, elements of story, and communication skills. Through play, writing, art-making, and dialogue, participants will craft their stories. Each workshop will also be available by video/Zoom for those unable to meet in person. The next phase of Chapman’s project involves interviewing the POVA artists, stipending them for their time, and creating a limited series podcast to launch at a public event in spring 2022.

Now and When: Love Letters to Nashville

With partners Nashville Design Week, lead artist Lindsey Laseter’s Love Letters to Nashville will present a bold collective of artistic expressions dedicated to Nashville’s enduring creative energy. Together, artists will create a series of artworks representative of their unwavering affection for Nashville and their aspirations for the future of this city we call home. Nashville Design Week (NDW) will identify a short list of 10 local artists and commission them to submit their visual love letter to Nashville. “Now & When,” Love Letters to Nashville submissions will be accepted in the form of two 11 x 17 posters, one poster reflecting “Now” and the other “When.” Posters will be collected digitally and printed by Nashville Design Week. All posters will be exhibited as part of Nashville Design Week 2021, as a wheat-paste mural collage installation between 2nd Avenue N and 3rd Avenue N. in Banker’s Alley.

Messiah Immersion Initiative

Lead artist Patrick Dailey will partner with Early Music City, W. Crimm Singers, First Lutheran Church, and Big Blue Opera Initiatives at Tennessee State University for the Messiah Immersion Initiative (MII). The MII offers singers of all skill levels the opportunity to prepare and perform Handel’s Messiah with established and emerging artists and an historically informed instrumental ensemble.

The MII will take place on Saturday, December 11th at the historic First Lutheran Church, 8th Avenue South, downtown. The progressive early music ensemble, Early Music City, will serve as the orchestra, joined by soloists and section leaders from the W. Crimm Singers (aka Wakanda Chorale). Enhancing the traditional sing-along concert model, this project allows participants unfamiliar with the work to engage it beyond just “come, sing your part, and leave.” The partners have designed an afternoon that includes the historic context of the work, traditions of Messiah beyond the concert hall, Nashville’s past engagement with the work in diverse communities, and even Handel’s own complicated history in art and investment.

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