We started this journey three years ago. Some inspiration, one big idea, a lot of conversations, and a great deal of work has produced a really unique conference for and by Nashville’s creatives: ArtCamp.
I recall the creative spirit here in the 1970’s as a kid. It was largely cultivated by the music industry. Photography, graphic design, lyricists, and marketing professionals all grew their careers out of music. But Nashville has never really been know for its arts scene. There’s something about the presentation big city like New York can create that feels different. We’ve have our local talent, and they are great representatives of what Nashville uniquely has had to offer all along: a genuine southern charm. This charm comes across with heart, and without a big caricature smile. Red Grooms is a unique talent who relocated from Nashville to New York but kept his southern charm. Herb Williams is another example of a wonderfully charming artist who’s working hard to make Nashville an arts destination through his unique forms of sculpture and street art.
Since the first ArtCamp I’ve noticed an organic form of growth in our creative culture. Artists have found the nooks and crannies of the city to build and display their work. You could say some of that started in East Nashville. Space and walls and quirky festivals cropped up everywhere. Cleveland park, Wedgwood Houston, the Arcade, Barry Hill, 100 Taylor Street, the Bridge Below Space, and more are settling into what little unused space is left. More galleries have opened and established ones get better and better, resembling the big city feel of an art scene.
When seen through a spreadsheet or a business plan art look like a bad investment. It takes so much time, and patience, and is so hard to replicate. If I take a long, wholistic view I can see how music, creative residents, public art, arts events all increase a city’s value. Art improves quality of life from art because spaces become more diverse. We grow a more unique identity from art’s beauty and voice, which in turn improves any MLS listing. My community, East Nashville continues to grow out of its artsy reputation. The fact of the matter is that the dollar value of properties increase because of our creative culture. It happening in Wedgwood Houston, which was formerly a kind of underground part of the city. It has now risen to become a destination. It’s happening near the river in Germantown. 100 Taylor Street is thriving and drawing people from all parts of the city.
Heart and Creativity
We have all this progress, and all of our character and charm. And now questions are being asked all over Nashville. When our “It” status ends will we retain our creativity, our creatives, and our heart? We are enjoying unprecedented growth and opportunity right now but the pinch is on. Some are leaving for places like Detroit for affordable space that is disappearing here.
Can we slow down this artists-can’t-afford-it-here process? I believe we can by employing our creativity and our charms. Let’s have this conversation regularly. Let’s support one another habitually. And let us continue creating passionately.
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