Mayor Bill Purcell (D - Nashville, TN)

Local Arts Leadership
2006

Since his 1999 campaign for mayor, Bill Purcell made a public commitment to support the arts in Nashville and its unique identity as "Music City, U.S.A." Shortly after his election, the Purcell Administration sponsored an ordinance to establish a Percent for Public Art Program and the Nashville Metro Council overwhelmingly approved the program, now making public art accessible to the entire community. The public art installation of Alice Aycock’s sculpture Ghost Ballet is scheduled for completion in early 2007. Over the past six years, the mayor has increased city funding to local arts organizations by 61 percent. This year alone, the mayor’s budget provided grants totaling $2.3 million to 43 different arts organizations. Metro Nashville has donated property and provided substantial financial support for the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, a more than $120 million state-of-the-art concert hall, to open in downtown Nashville in September 2006.

Relations between the music industry and the traditional business community have never been stronger in Nashville, raising the profile of "Music City" as a place where all forms of music can flourish. Under Purcell’s leadership, Nashville’s Fourth of July Celebration now features top-flight music talent, the Nashville Symphony, and a fireworks extravaganza ranked as one of the top five in the nation. It is one of only four Independence Day concerts telecast nationwide. The mayor has successfully worked with the Metro Council to secure capital funding for the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Children’s Theatre, and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, as well as planning monies for a museum of African-American history. In 2005, American Style magazine named Nashville one of the top 25 arts destinations nationwide.