5 Groups Promoting History And Culture In Tennessee
Tennessee possesses both an enduring cultural legacy and a thriving community of contemporary artists, and organizations throughout the state work to engage public interest in keeping these traditions alive. Listed here in no particular order, the following groups offer support for Tennessee's present-day creators, while preserving and showcasing the treasures of its past.
Beginning our roundup at #1 is Dogwood Arts, which celebrates and supports the cultural and natural beauty of East Tennessee. This organization maintains public spaces like Knoxville's iconic dogwood trails, and provides visitor information on its Open Gardens. The Bazillion Blooms program helps to beautify the area through tree plantings, and the Art in Public Places initiative funds the creation of murals and sculptures in community spaces.
The group runs a variety of events to encourage community engagement with nature and the arts. Examples include the Chalk Walk, which turns area sidewalks into a canvas for local creators, and displays of imaginative works by students with disabilities. The organization helped develop the Southern Skies Music Festival, showcasing talented performers from throughout the region, and arranges group outdoor activities like hikes and trail rides.
Following up at #2 is Historic Nashville, Inc., a nonprofit membership organization promoting and safeguarding the city's architectural legacy. Its preservation easement program, the first in the state, enables the owner of a historic property to place its facade in the group's care. Noteworthy sites protected by the program include the Hermitage Hotel and the Southern Turf Building.
The Preservation Revolving Fund at HNI purchases historic buildings in danger of demolition and sells them to owners willing to preserve and rehabilitate the properties. The organization advocates against development plans that would destroy legacy sites, with efforts like its annual Nashville Nine list of endangered places. Its Behind-the-Scenes tours let visitors explore historic buildings throughout the city.
At #3 is the Birthplace of Country Music nonprofit organization, which commemorates the city of Bristol's musical heritage. Its museum displays exhibits and artifacts telling the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, a series of recordings that helped shape and popularize Southern roots music. The space includes a variety of educational activities for young people, along with rotating exhibits exploring related historical topics like Appalachian photography.
In addition to the museum, the group operates a network of radio channels dedicated to American roots music, including explorations of its history as well as spotlights on contemporary artists. It also produces Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, an annual festival showcasing performers in a variety of Southern-influenced musical styles.
Coming in at #4 is the Historic Broad Avenue Arts Alliance, which promotes and celebrates the revitalization of this formerly economically depressed Memphis neighborhood. The street has become a haven for creators, housing many studios and galleries where performers can learn their skills, and designers can craft and sell their work. The Alliance has helped to bring a variety of public art pieces to the area, including numerous wall paintings as well as the iconic Water Tower mural and light show.
The Broad Avenue Art Walk is a yearly celebration of the area's creativity, with locals showing off their wares and performances in a street party atmosphere. Dance on Broad is a lesson series where participants can learn movement styles from Bollywood to swing. The Alliance shares information on the area's history and current attractions, and helps interested entrepreneurs open businesses in the neighborhood.
We'll close with #5, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the oldest continuously performing company of its kind in the Southeast. Its concerts include renditions of works by the great classical composers of history, in addition to innovative offerings like symphonic performances of Beatles songs. Musicians frequently go beyond the concert hall to perform at non-traditional venues including schools, public parks, and hospitals.
Musical education is an important part of KSO's mission, and its Youth Orchestra enables young musicians to train in a professional environment. The Summer String Camp provides an immersive social and educational experience, helping students become oriented with ensemble playing. Other outreach efforts from the Orchestra include visits to rural communities for public performances, and Young People's Concerts designed as field-trip opportunities.