Tennessee Association of Craft Artists (Tennessee Craft)
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615-736-7600
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2423 Eugenia Ave
Nashville, TN 37211
Organization Details

Statements

Mission

Tennessee Craft creates opportunities for the state's independent craft artists to thrive. As the only networked community of its kind across the state, Tennessee Craft, with more than 500+ members throughout the state, nurtures talent and creates artist connections through year-round professional development programs funded by donors, grants, and signature exhibition events. We serve the arts community, strengthen connections between artists of all growth levels, and represent craft traditions to the public in new and unexpected ways. That's why we've been Tennessee's largest, most visible and most respected craft organization since 1965. HIGH QUALITY.Tennessee Craft creates high-value enrichment and professional development opportunities for craft artists around the state. RELATIONSHIP-DRIVEN. Tennessee Craft creates environments for life-changing connections to spark and grow, fostering supportive, artist-to-artist relationships; creating connections between artists and their customers; building maker communities across the state; and creating intimate connection between curious buyers and handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces that speak to them. ROOTED. Tennessee Craft is dedicated to the preservation of traditional craft methods, the promotion of local and regional talent, and educating our membership as well as the public on the people, processes, and rich traditions of craft in Tennessee. EMPOWERING. Tennessee Craft empowers craft artists around the state by creating opportunities for artistic and professional growth, craft education, community exposure, customer sales, and advocacy. Our network of makers, mentors and appreciators is supportive of growth at all levels. Every Tennessean benefits from a thriving arts community. That's why Tennessee Craft has worked for 56 years to champion the fine craft movement, producing top-notch events worth attending, featuring art worth owning, from artists worth supporting.

Background

Founded in 1965, Tennessee Craft developed as a volunteer organization for a decade, hired its first paid staff in 1976, all to encourage, develop and promote craft and craft people in Tennessee.Tennessee Craft offers a multi-faceted approach to increase the interest in fine craft and career-viability for craftspeople in Tennessee, nurturing new generations of craft artists. We strive to: ENCOURAGE professionalism among craftspeople. CREATE MARKETING opportunities for craft artists. INCREASE public UNDERSTANDING of and appreciation for fine craft. o PROVIDE a FORUM for members to encourage mutual support. Based on the Tennessee's developmental districts, Tennessee Craft created regional chapters, with six now active, which receive seed money and a charge to provide local programming, allowing us a unique means of responding to member needs and interests regionally. The board is comprised of 21 members elected from the statewide membership and community supporters, including one representative from each Chapter. Tennessee Craft also has an Advisory Council of 13. In 1972, Tennessee Craft developed the Spring Craft Fair in Centennial Park, still ongoing in the same park. The Fair showcases the largest selection of 21st century Tennessee craft exhibited at one time in the country. A second craft fair was added in the fall of 1978 and was designed to be a juried national show, comprise of outstanding craft artists from across the country and serving as inspiration to Tennessee artists and collectors. Both Fairs include the Emerging Makers Tent, an artist entrepreneur incubator program, that helps launch the art careers of emerging craft artists. Tennessee Craft provides a positive, practical experience to artists to sell their handcrafted product in the marketplace with guidance from craft fair veterans. For $25 each, member artists can test the waters at a professional craft fair. An emerging maker can be any age with limited craft fair experience. Currently Tennessee Craft serves approximately 500 members statewide; 30% of our members live in counties deemed more than 50% rural, providing them with a vital link to the larger craft community. More than 35% of our membership resides in the Midstate Chapter, a group of thirteen counties centered around Nashville, and more than 93% of our budget is spent within Davidson County.

Impact

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:1) Tennessee Craft Fairs, which are featured twice annually in Nashville's Centennial Park, have become an anticipated part of Nashville's culture, completely free and accessible to the public. These events feature craft artists who are among the best in the nation, building public appreciation of fine craft, growing craft artists' careers, and bringing talented artists and the community together to show and sell artists' work. These complex productions engage hundreds of artists and dozens of businesses, having a significant economic impact on the greater community, with annual spending for exhibited artwork exceeding $1 million. 2) Tennessee Craft will present the 7th Annual TENNESSEE CRAFT WEEK (TCW) in October 2021. TCW is an outgrowth of a larger organized effort called American Craft Week (ACW), an annual recognition of craft across the nation. Tennessee Craft Week shines a spotlight on the collective impact that Made in Tennessee craft has on our culture, community and economy. In 2019 with the help of Tennessee Dept of Tourism Development and others, Tennessee Craft presented and marketed 86 unique and often interactive events, up from 40 events in 2015. Recognition in the form of national awards came our way immediately, as Tennessee Craft swept the awards, with 3 in 2015, 5 of 25 awards in 2016, 5 of 17 in 2017, 4 of 23 awards given nationally in 2018. Awards have included Most Innovative Concept, Outstanding Family Event, Outstanding Legacy of Craft Education and Demonstration, and Most Informative Speaker, Ultimate Group Celebration, Exceptional Public Sector Support and Best Event at a Library. In 2019, TCW was named Best State Wide Craft Event, and in 2020, Tennessee Craft received the award for Most Creative Concept for a virtual event. An honorary chairperson lends credibility to our messaging and helps attract media attention, with Tennessee's First Lady Crissy Haslam serving first, and Diamond Rio's Gene Johnson, a woodworker, helping in 2016, with country music legend Tanya Tucker touting the value of handmade craft in 2017 and news media personality Demetria Kalodimos for 2018. Musicians Craig Morgan and Ketch Secor served in 2019 and 2020, respectively. 3) For the first time, TC received a matching $25,000 Challenge Grant for our annual giving campaign from the Windgate Foundation, who supports fine craft organizations on the national stage. 4) Tennessee Craft support of artists expanded this year. We build maker communities across the state by offering fully-paid week-long craft workshops, including tuition, materials and room and sometimes food, at one of three prestigious Tennessee craft programs - Appalachian Center for Craft, Arrowmont and Shakerag Workshops. in 2019 the workshop quantity increased from 6 to 10. The proceeds from our professional development workshop and a partnership with each school creates this unique opportunity to fulfill Tennessee Craft's mission, providing educational advancement to craft artists wishing to improve their knowledge and skills in a craft medium of their choice. GOALS:1) Continue to reach out and build relationships with representatives of culturally diverse communities, broadening community representation in our artist pool and diversifying our board membership. 2) Increase the building of relationships with organizations with mutual benefit to all missions. 3) Analyze and remodel opportunities to artists throughout the state, offering an array that benefits artists in the varying stages of their craft art careers. 4) Attract broader media attention, broaden digital reach and increase number of new artists participating.. 5) Develop and launch a new perpetual e-commerce marketplace for craft artists and their work - Shop Tennessee Craft. 6) Expand volunteer and intern programs. 7)We'll listen, learn, even more so, to the needs and interests of our constituents, partners and the arts community, and adapt to ensure relevant impact, post-pandemic.

Needs

Tennessee Craft's primary needs relate to ensuring the sustainability of our organization and building the success of Tennessee Craft Week.We need:*A craft champion, who is connected to the greater philanthropic community. * Pro Bono public relations assistance in managing a statewide media campaign and further enhancing our marketing delivering; * $25,000 in corporate sponsorships per fair ($50k per year), to enhance our educational and community outreach programs, continue direct artist support, sustain our free events, plus build a donor appreciation aspect to our ongoing work; * Board members, interns, volunteers to provide expert guidance in the areas of marketing, media-buying, fundraising, event management and estate-planning and to join us in hands-on the staging and executing of our fairs and other artist initiatives.

CEO Statement

At the core of Tennessee Craft are artists helping artists.As the only open membership organization in Tennessee devoted exclusively to craft and craft artists, we continue to explore the changing ways artists need our help to grow in their craft and business.With a policy of open membership, we provide services for anyone interested in craft, from the beginner to the professional, encouraging them in their development and linking in professional and master craft artists in ways that enrich learning. Our newsletters, e-news blasts, website and social media presence bring vital information and opportunities to all members and beyond. Individually, members take advantage of such programs as our business management workshops and juried craft fairs, group shows and marketing opportunities, as well as our statewide competition/exhibition. Education and outreach serves to enrich understanding and appreciation of fine craft. From training programs for rising artists to education programs for fair attendees, Tennessee Craft exposes thousands of people to this accessible art form every year. Programs that excite and educate the public to the value of hand-crafted work contribute markedly to the success of those working full-time in the field. Our programs preserve fine craft traditions that people care about. By providing direct access for the public to craftspeople and their creative process, we heighten the public's appreciation for the individual artists behind the work. Most people have some meaningful connection to or daily interaction with a handcrafted items, making craft a highly accessible medium that many relate to. As craft objects have a longer life than any individual, they become heirlooms valued for their history and the stories they tell. Their treasure is the ongoing narrative of the object - the provenance of the piece, who gave it to whom and for what occasion, and the artist's story - why artists made the work, what or who inspired them, why they made the choices of medium, texture, color or embellishment. Tennessee Craft will continue to explore ideas for new initiatives that can bring craft to more people and inspire our future craft artists and appreciators, to be sure our living craft culture survives. This organization enriches the city's circle of fine arts, enhancing Nashville and Tennessee's identity as a creative community and artist colony.

Board Chair Statement

Tennessee Craft welcomes all to join us in celebration of handmade craft as we focus on our mission to continue the tradition of fine craft in Tennessee. Whether a master craftsperson, an aspiring craftsperson, an enthusiast, or the curious, we invite all to join us at one of our sponsored events. We offer the opportunity to get to know other lovers and makers of handmade craft who are members of one of our six regional chapters that stretch across the state. Our Board of Directors consists of community professionals and craft artists. When serving on committees, board members' focus on the goals and objectives of our Strategic Plan allow us to work together to assure the value and ongoing importance of our mission.


Service Categories

Primary Category: Arts, Culture & Humanities  - Arts & Culture 
Secondary Category: Arts, Culture & Humanities  - Professional Societies & Associations 
Tertiary Category: Arts, Culture & Humanities  - Community Celebrations 

Areas Served

Tennessee Craft is a statewide organization. With a home base in middle Tennessee our most impactful program, two juried craft fairs, are produced and presented locally in Nashville. Statewide, our six volunteer-run chapters serve their local area with programs, events and education for their region. Over thirty-five percent of our membership resides in the Midstate Chapter, a group of thirteen counties centered around Nashville and more than 95% of our budget is expended within Davidson County.

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