Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation
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1900 Belmont Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37212
Organization Details



The Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation (TAAF) was established in 1998 to aid and assist in the growth and expansion of the Tennessee Arts Academy. Through their active participation in this nationally renowned training institute, Tennessee Arts Academy teacher-participants renew their commitment to active learning and artistic literacy, to the power of the arts to promote critical thinking, and to the importance of the arts in the lives of all students. The TAAF Board of Directors shares in the belief that educators trained at the Tennessee Arts Academy are better equipped and motivated to serve their students, significantly raise achievement levels, and effect positive and lasting change in classrooms throughout the state. The board pursues its goals through a yearly plan of action which includes a variety of fundraising events and community awareness programs designed to inform and educate the public, state education leaders, and government officials regarding the merits of the Academy and the critical need for increased emphasis on the arts and creativity in our schools. The Foundation accepts both individual and corporate contributions. For further information about the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation, call 615-460-5451 or email questions or comments to taa@belmont.edu.


The Tennessee Arts Academy (TAA) is the nation's premier summer professional development institute for arts education. The Academy has been held annually since 1986 on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Tennessee Arts Academy annually trains more than 325 K-12 educators, who in turn impact more than 200,000 Tennessee students (approximately 20% of the state student population) in that one year alone. The Academy's advanced curriculum, cutting-edge methodology, and unique philosophical perspective maximize participants' learning experiences. With renewed energy and knowledge, teachers trained at the Tennessee Arts Academy return to their classrooms better equipped to provide Tennessee students with the necessary skills and experiences to become creative and productive members of our workforce and society. During its 37-year history, the Academy has trained over 7500 teachers, who have directly influenced over 3 million Tennessee students. The Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1997 and incorporated in 1998, was created to assist the Tennessee Arts Academy's growth and expansion and to help compensate for TAA funding deficits. TAAF and TAA staff work together to find additional means of revenue to preserve the Academy and its stellar programs. The TAAF plans to raise over $527,000 in 2022-2023. Its 26-member board represents broad and diverse interests, and its members come from all corners of the state. The TAAF honorary board includes Tony award-winning composer Charles Strouse (Annie), Disney composer and lyricist Richard Sherman (Mary Poppins), Emmy and Tony award-winning actress Cherry Jones (Doubt), Hollywood film director Jay Russell (The Water Horse), musician and bandleader Doc Severinsen (The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson); Grammy-winning lyricist Dean Pitchford (Fame), and many others. Comments collected from actual evaluations during past Academy sessions best describe the TAA experience: "The Tennessee Arts Academy was the most inspiring and renewing professional development experience that I have had in my teaching career!" TAA Participant: "To say that I was impressed would be in error. I was simply overwhelmed with the concept and the vision it took to make it happen. This is such a unique idea. The setting is special, the format is special, the staff is special and the spirit is simply extraordinary." TAA Guest Faculty


The Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation (TAAF) is committed to providing the Tennessee Arts Academy (TAA) with needed support to continue their outstanding professional development program for arts teachers in our state. Four key support areas include: 1) TAA Inclusion in the State Education Budget - TAAF works diligently each year to educate lawmakers and the governor's staff on the merits of funding arts education professional development. Because of the financial strain caused by COVID and more recently inflation, the TAAF is currently seeking an increase of $100,000 in the FY24 budget. 2) Enlarging the TAA Endowment Fund - Having created a charter and a founding TAA Endowment Fund Board of Directors, emphasis is now being given to raising the endowment's balance. The initial goal was met, and the current Endowment Fund balance sits at more than $620,000. A new campaign will start in 2023 and culminate in 2024 to raise the fund level to $1,000,000. 3) Sell 50 Tables for the Bravo! Awards Banquet and Performance - TAAF has consistently increased table sales for the Bravo! Banquet and Performance. Due to COVID, the traditional event was not held in 2020 or 2021. Instead, TAAF helped TAA reimagine the format and produced virtual evenings in 2020 and 2021 that featured such luminaries as Sting, Neil Patrick Harris, and Stephen Sondheim. TAAF raised almost $80,000 between the two events. The goal for the in-person Bravo Banquet and Performance is to reach $50,000 a year through 2024. We are well on our way. In 2022, the on-campus event raised $50,597 4) Academic Partner Collaborations with Local Schools, School Districts, and Other Statewide Arts Organizations - TAAF continues to seek out schools, school districts, and statewide arts organizations who are willing to help financially support teachers wishing to attend TAA. Strategies TAAF has explored and implemented are two-fold. TAAF has used fundraising dollars to offer matching scholarships to schools and districts so that individual educators are able to attend TAA on a reduced-fee or no-fee basis. Additionally, partnerships are pursued with local school districts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and other statewide organizations who have an interest in providing professional development for arts teachers. This approach turned into a new program called the TAA Arts Partners. This group of "Arts Partners" are honored and highlighted through various means for their financial support. Due to our efforts, the number of participants who attend TAA free of charge has climbed to over 70%, due to scholarship assistance and Arts Partner support. Even during the pandemic, when TAA went virtual, the enrollment was well over 325 virtual participants in both 2020 and 2021. Four new focus areas for 2023-2025 include: 1) Expansion of Sponsorships for Faculty and Artist Presentations - TAAF will seek additional faculty and artist Sponsorships for the various TAA plenary sessions. 2) Strategic Plan - A five-year strategic plan is being created that will help guide the organization to allow for expanded programming. 3) Continued Development of the TAA Winter Retreat - TAAF was successful in receiving a pilot grant for the first ever TAA Virtual Winter Retreat in 2022. The Virtual Winter Retreat was offered free of charge to all those who attended the previous TAA summer session. Its purpose is to serve as a refresher course to answer curriculum questions, recalibrate, and reinspire educators as they enter into their spring semester. This event was repeated in 2023 with a 30% increase in applications. 4) Arts Rich Schools - During the 2023 Arts Academy, TAAF plans to announce the creation of an Arts Rich Schools program that will set the standards for schools to create a strong and vibrant arts curriculum. Schools will be recognized and honored who adopt and excel in achieving arts rich school status.


The five most pressing needs of the TAAF Board are as follows: 1) Maintain and enhance the outstanding quality of existing Academy programs and resources; 2) Provide major financial assistance for Academy operational needs by implementing the TAAF three-year Development Plan of Action, expanding the teacher scholarship funding program so that all teachers who need financial support to attend the Academy have the means to do so, and embarking on a campaign to substantially increase the level of funds in the current TAA Endowment to ensure long-term stability; 3) Raise awareness among the public, state government leaders, and school district administrators regarding the importance of arts education in our schools; 4) Empower arts teachers to have a voice in their professional development through the TAA Alumni Association; and, 5) Continue to build the profile of the TAAF board through strong and focused strategic planning and goal setting.

CEO Statement

The Tennessee Arts Academy (TAA) was created during the first wave of the education reform movement of the 1980's, when professional development programs for arts teachers were practically non-existent. Thirty-seven years later, the Tennessee Arts Academy's summer institute has risen to the top of its field to become one of the finest arts education professional development learning experiences in the nation. TAA attracts a diverse and enthusiastic group of K-12 educators who meet for six days of intensive study, hosted on the beautiful Belmont University campus. World-class academic instructors and talented artists from throughout the nation and abroad form the annually rotating faculty, providing unparalleled instruction, community and renewal. Educators are grouped into two divisions: elementary/lower middle school and upper middle school/secondary. The TAA participants are then assigned to a class track, with offerings in visual art, music, arts integration, theatre and dance. A special arts leadership and administration track provides insight, strategies and practical advice on ways the arts can be fully utilized as part of the total school program. Each day attendees spend two to three varied and stimulating sessions studying with the expert core faculty. Additionally, performances, art exhibitions, 'Musings' (TAA's philosophical component) and 'Interludes' (special choice sessions) are unique parts of each day's learning experience. Daily special events include an opening celebration and young artist performance; an art crawl featuring three exclusive TAA art exhibitions plus tours of on-campus museums; the Bravo! Academy Awards Banquet and Performance, where nationally recognized artists and statewide leaders are honored; and the Finale luncheon, which includes a performance by the Academy Chorale and presentation of the Joe W. Giles Lifetime Achievement Award, given to one of Tennessee's outstanding arts educators. As participants depart, bittersweet farewells can be heard at the close of the busy but exciting week of study, learning and networking. Exit evaluation results provided by TAA participants consistently rank the Academy at the highest levels in every category including quality of instruction, programs offered, and most importantly, the usefulness of the instruction to the needs of the teachers. Participants who have completed the rigorous TAA program have been given extraordinary tools and direction to super-charge their learning environment and make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of students across the state.

Board Chair Statement

The Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation (TAAF) was established in 1998 to provide support for the Tennessee Arts Academy (TAA). Our board members strongly believe that the world class professional development TAA provides for K-12 arts educators has a significant impact on their ability to positively affect student learning. Each summer TAAF Board members have the opportunity to see how attending TAA changes lives, both for the teacher and the students they teach. While we have TAA attendees from all parts of the state, the vast majority of the teachers who attend TAA come from school systems that do not have arts supervisors nor offer professional development in the arts. This is especially true in Tennessee's rural school systems. The need for the services provided by TAA is essential to our state's most under-served school districts and teachers.

Without the support offered by TAAF, TAA could not continue to provide the high level of quality instruction to arts educators each summer. Working together with the Tennessee General Assembly, TAAF more than matches the funding TAA receives from the state government. Ours is an excellent example of the positive influence a public-private partnership can achieve. The TAAF Board is committed to maintaining a diverse membership that is representative of our state and is sensitive to the needs of all of Tennessee's arts teachers and their communities. To keep TAA solid financially, our Board has initiated numerous fundraising projects, including an end-of-year annual campaign, our VIP Bravo! Society business memberships, and an expanded funding drive with the goal of increasing our endowment account to a million dollars. We continue to build and strengthen our alumni organization, which is made up of teachers who have attended TAA in the past. The Alumni Association state president is an ex-officio member of TAAF and provides our Board with insights from the arts classroom. The TAA Alumni Association helps raise funds for participants to attend the Academy and is heavily invested in advocacy, which includes regularly produced podcasts featuring teachers, Board members, and donors.

A goal of TAAF is to raise awareness of the essential work being performed by TAA. Each year TAA provides world class professional development to approximately 350 arts teachers, who return to their schools to teach 200,000 students in one school year. This number represents 20% of the total K-12 enrollment in Tennessee. TAAF spreads the message that staff development in the arts is a worthy and vitally important endeavor. The TAAF Board understands that students involved in the arts have higher academic scores, have less absenteeism, and are more likely to graduate. Our TAA participants share personal accounts of students who stay in school primarily because of the band, visual art, or theatre program. We realize the arts help give students meaning, focus, and direction. Working together, both TAAF and TAA will continue to do all we can to help arts teachers achieve their greatest potential. We know in doing so that we are making a lasting effect on K-12 education and the future of our state.

Service Categories

Primary Category: Education  - Adult Education 
Secondary Category: Arts, Culture & Humanities  - Arts Education 
Tertiary Category: Arts, Culture & Humanities  - Arts & Culture 

Areas Served

Since its inception, TAA has reached teachers from all Tennessee school districts and counties. During the ten-year period from 2013 to 2022, TAA enrolled teachers from 114 counties/school systems. The 2013 to 2022 TAA statistics are as follows: Number of Tennessee School Systems Served - 114; Number of Tennessee Private School Teachers Served - 327; Number of Tennessee Arts Teachers Served - 2,930; Number of Tennessee Students Impacted - 1,697,550.

TN - Tennessee (Entire State)
TN - Cannon
TN - Cheatham
TN - Coffee
TN - Cumberland
TN - Davidson
TN - Dickson
TN - Fentress
TN - Franklin
TN - Giles
TN - Hickman
TN - Houston
TN - Humphreys
TN - Jackson
TN - Lawrence
TN - Lewis
TN - Lincoln
TN - Macon
TN - Marshall
TN - Maury
TN - Montgomery
TN - Moore
TN - Overton
TN - Perry
TN - Putnam
TN - Robertson
TN - Rutherford
TN - Smith
TN - Sumner
TN - Trousdale
TN - Van Buren
TN - Warren
TN - Wayne
TN - White
TN - Williamson
TN - Wilson
TN - Bedford
TN - Other
TN - DeKalb