The Loss of ‘Nashville Arts’ Hits East Nashville Art Community
After nearly 10 years of chronicling and celebrating Nashville’s arts scene, Nashville Arts Magazine announced in August that it’d printed its last page.
In a note to readers, publisher and CEO Paul Polycarpou expressed his appreciation for the years of getting to dig deep into Nashville’s creative scene, and a desire to start “ticking off some of the boxes” on his bucket list, after 109 issues filled with the work and stories of Nashville photographers, sculptors, painters, performing artists, and more.
Through the years, the monthly magazine featured a slew of East Nashville artists, businesses, and events — exhibits at Red Arrow Gallery, the opening of Poverty and the Arts’ new East Side studio, year after year of Tomato Art Fest love.
So for many of those who make, share, and spotlight all kinds of art here, Nashville Arts’ shuttering is a profound loss.
“I remember when I moved here in late 2011, I was blown away that ‘Music City’ had a monthly full-color magazine, devoted to the arts,” says Katie Shaw, Red Arrow’s owner. “Within the first few weeks of establishing Red Arrow in Nashville, Paul had reached out and stopped by the gallery to meet me in person and decided to do a story in a future edition. For my gallery this was top exposure that I didn’t have to pay for and desperately, being new to the community, needed. . . . For the community as a whole, NAM provided a venue for all artists to be shown and written about.”
To Sara Lederach — who co-curated East Nashville’s Gallery Luperca, and was a driving force behind the neighborhood East Side Art Stumble art crawl — that support wasn’t just a boost for individual artists and galleries, but a vital part of what kept the arts scene in Nashville from being washed out by “It City” growth and the ever-present “Music City” shadow.
“[It’s] devastating, and should be a reality check for people who value visual and performing arts in this city,” she says. “Nashville is experiencing an identity crisis in the face of tremendous growth and the monolithic country music industry. This will only be exacerbated by the loss of Nashville Arts Magazine.”
The larger question, as the Nashville arts scene loses a valued mouthpiece and cheerleader:
“What is our clearinghouse for exhibitions and performances now?” Lederach asks. “This feels like a step backwards for the arts community. . . . Through NAM, we had access to people who were as passionate about art and community as we are. I’m so bummed to see it end.”