TDOE, CMA Foundation, and Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation Announce Next Phase of the Tennessee: State of the Arts Program

Wednesday, November 03, 2021 | 03:33pm


Statewide Arts Education Network and Arts Education Landscape Study Opportunities Now Available for All Tennessee School Districts

Nashville, TN—The Tennessee Department of Education and the CMA Foundation, in partnership with Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, have announced the next phase of the Tennessee: State of the Arts program, including a statewide arts education network and landscape study, to research and evaluate how to create and build upon preexisting arts programs in Tennessee districts to provide all Tennessee students with access to a high-quality arts education.

The next phase of the State of the Arts program is to explore how districts can establish high-quality arts education programs and discover barriers affecting the quality of current arts education programming to better inform policymaking, district strategic planning, development of resources and support systems, and investment/philanthropic activities.

“We are thrilled to work with incredible partners, like the CMA Foundation and Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, to focus on strengthening public-private partnerships to support arts education and the sharing of ideas and promising practices between our districts,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Focusing on arts education and ensuring our students are exposed to these types of opportunities is so important and we are excited for this next phase of work.”

The State of the Arts: Arts Education Network is a mechanism to develop and strengthen public-private partnerships to support arts education to build a strong network of practice to facilitate the collaboration and sharing of ideas and promising practices between over 30 districts representing almost half of Tennessee’s student population. Membership in the Arts Education Network is free and open to all Tennessee public school districts and charter schools. Districts interested in participating in the network are encouraged to submit an intent to participate form.

A first-of-its-kind statewide arts education landscape analysis, the State of the Arts Study will identify the barriers preventing student access to high-quality programming, gaps in sequential K–12 arts pathways, and identify the types of supports needed at the school-, district-, and state- level. Facilitated by the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and powered by the foundation’s Music Education (and Arts) District Support Services (MEDSS)® framework, the landscape study is a comprehensive assessment of district arts- including dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts- education programs to collect data relative to the quality indicators of arts education programs.

Through the support of the CMA Foundation, Network participants will have immediate access to the State of the Arts Study at no cost. Participating districts also have access to arts content-specific professional learning communities (PLCs), an arts education content-specific professional learning toolkit and provider directory, and instructional resources—such as the visual and performing arts instructional framework guides—to be developed as part of the next phase of the State of the Arts program.

“Our expanded needs assessments will allow every district across the state of Tennessee to think strategically about arts access and the inequities that exist, while also addressing quality issues and strengthening relationships with arts educators,” said Tiffany Kerns, CMA Foundation Executive Director. “We are firm believers that no dollar is wasted when you are addressing actual need versus making assumptions. When we can equip public school districts with accurate data, we are able to better prioritize our funding to provide the most impact while also helping our district partners to create long-term strategies.”

“The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation applauds the Tennessee Department of Education and Country Music Association Foundation for recognizing the tremendous impact arts education has on youth development and for utilizing our Music (and Arts) Education District Support Services (MEDSS®) to conduct this important State of the Arts Study that will inform school, district and state decision-makers as to the current state of arts education at every school and the resources and support needed in order for all students to have access to quality, sequential and sustainable arts programming,” said Tricia Williams, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation Program Director. “This State of the Arts Study will position the state of Tennessee as a leader in the nation utilizing the power of community specific, data-driven information to address and eliminate core issues challenging arts education."

“We are honored to have been among the first districts to benefit from and contribute to the State of the Arts program in Tennessee. It is extremely exciting to see the conversations around advancing arts education taking place in our state,” said Dr. Lindsay Halford, Rutherford County Schools Fine Arts Specialist. “We look forward to continuing our participation in the second phase of the program by focusing on content-specific collaboration opportunities for our arts educators and continuing to build upon the foundation of high-quality arts education we already have here in RCS. The State of the Arts Study is an exciting opportunity to gain insight from a variety of stakeholders to inform our strategic goals and realize our vision of providing meaningful arts opportunities for all students.”

The first phase of the State of the Arts program launched in 2019 with a $1 million investment in a multi-year music grant. This grant opportunity provided the means for eight districts to fund initiatives and strategies to expand student access to high-quality music education programs.  

The Tennessee: State of the Arts program was developed as a public-private partnership between the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation and the Department of Education. The program seeks to leverage Tennessee’s rich history in the arts to develop models of high-quality arts education (dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts) programs as a strategy focused on expanding students’ access to high-quality music and arts education.

For more information about the CMA Foundation, visit

For more information about Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation,

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact