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State of the Arts (SOTA)

Tennessee: State of the Arts was developed as a public- private partnership between the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation and the State of Tennessee. This initiative seeks to leverage Tennessee’s rich history in the arts to launch a statewide program focused on expanding students’ access to high-quality music and arts education.

The Partnership

State of the Arts

After a commitment of $1 million in funding over three years, State of the Arts will leverage the expertise of the CMA Foundation to help develop a statewide initiative that aims to create a cohesive model for arts and music education in Tennessee. The CMA Foundation has invested over $20 million across all 50 states working to ensure every child has access to a quality music education.

Download the State of the Arts Info Brief

The Implementation

In its first year, State of the Arts will launch a new, competitive grant opportunity with the Tennessee Department of Education that will allow school districts to receive funding to improve or develop their music education programs. Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, three-year grants will be awarded to eight districts across the state. Grants will focus on the goal of expanding access to music education and may fund a range of strategies including professional development for music teachers; additional arts and music supplies, materials, and equipment to address equity challenges; or expansion of local arts educational outreach programs, etc.

The Importance of Arts Education

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Research shows that the impact of expanding arts education stretches far beyond growth in arts and musical ability into a student’s overall academic performance, their attendance and engagement at school, and their likelihood of graduating.1

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Tennessee has devoted the last several years to improving standards and instruction in other core content areas and the goal of State of the Arts is to bolster the attention placed on music and arts education to support all content areas and ensure that we are building well-rounded students ready to compete in tomorrow’s workforce.
1Eason, B.J.A., & Johnson, C.M. (2013). Prelude: Music Makes Us baseline research report. Nashville, TN: Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Contact Us

For more information about State of the Arts or fine arts in Tennessee schools, contact Todd Shipley, State of the Arts program director, at (615) 762-6330 or