There’s more to Nashville’s arts scene these days than just country music – the message of popular TV shows notwithstanding. Nashville is home to one of America’s best regional orchestras (a seven-time Grammy winner), fabulous art museums and galleries, adventurous opera, hard-bopping jazz, fun and thought-provoking theater, and lots more. It’s an exhilarating arts scene, to be sure, and it definitely demands serious journalistic attention.
ArtsNash was founded in the spring of 2012 for that very purpose. The mission of this nonprofit journalism company is to provide comprehensive coverage of Nashville’s thriving arts scene, posting on our website the sorts of high-quality professional reviews that used to be found in daily newspapers. ArtsNash publishes the work of some of Music City’s finest reviewers, including former Tennessean critic Evans Donnell (theater, opera, film) and long-time Nashville Scene scribes Joe Nolan (visual arts), John Pitcher (classical music, dance) and Ron Wynn (jazz).
During its first season of operation, ArtsNash posted over 400 reviews, and the website received more than 100,000 unique visits.
· ArtsNash is providing an important public service. The website is the only professional journalism organization in the city that routinely reviews the concerts of the Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony. ArtsNash was also the only media outlet to review such recent performances as the world premiere of Nashville Ballet’s “Peter Pan” and Nashville Opera’s “The Pearl Fishers.”
· ArtsNash’s reviews are all being stored in an online archive, which is already beginning to constitute the most important historical record of Nashville’s vibrant arts scene in the early 21st century.
In addition, the site has established important regional and national partnerships with such noted groups as NowPlayingNashville (Nashville’s premier online calendar), ArtsATL (Atlanta’s terrific online arts journal) and the delightfully provocative Clyde Fitch Report. Since ArtsNash is committed to the long-term success of the arts, it has also established an internship program to train the next generation of arts journalists.
The success of ArtsNash during its first season has allowed us to market a few ads on our home page, bringing in a small amount of money to help defray expenses while providing other nonprofits with an inexpensive means to market their important endeavors. What the ad money does not do, however, is provide ArtsNash with the funds it needs to pay its writers, who up to now have all donated their services. ArtsNash is a nonprofit (we are incorporated in Tennessee and our application for federal tax exempt status is pending), and just like public television and public radio we depend on the support and generosity of the public for our survival. That’s why we’re launching this Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,000.
What will the money be used for? All of it (100 percent) will be used to send our professional writers an embarrassingly small check for each of their reviews. That’s the least that we can do, given the substantial amount of time the writers devote to each piece. The $5,000 would enable us to pay the writers during the winter and early spring of 2014. On Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, we received a letter from the IRS that approved our August 2012 application for tax-exempt status under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, so your contribution is tax deductible under Section 170 of the code.
What will you get besides the option of that deduction? In the larger sense you can feel that you're aiding the cultural life of our community by encouraging serious professional coverage of the local arts scene. This is critical at a time when studies have shown that while journalism coverage of the arts has steadily declined, participation in the arts by members of the public has steadily increased. The arts matter to more and more of our citizens yet the information they need is coming more frequently from less reliable sources – much of it now amounting to little more than 140-character shout outs. Don’t get us wrong. We love Twitter and use it all the time. But great art doesn’t always lend itself to analysis by haiku. Good criticism provides us with a template on how to remember and appreciate the great art that we see and hear. And it makes that art unforgettable in every sense of that word. With your help ArtsNash wants to give the region’s arts scene the sort of serious professional attention it deserves.
Other Ways You Can Help
We know not everyone can contribute money at this time. You can help by spreading the word, however: send people to our website, refer them to our Facebook page and, yes, our Twitter profile, and of course post a link to this campaign through your social media accounts. Thanks in advance for anything and everything you can do to aid not only arts journalism but more importantly the coverage and promotion of the cultural offerings that strengthen our society in so many ways!
-- John Pitcher, ArtsNash President and Co-Founder