Nashville's tipping point in the arts Commentary by Anne Brown

You know for sure Nashville is nearing the tipping point in the arts when a national business publication makes the point for us. Here's the way Jason Ankeny put it in his article, "The art of online commerce," in the current issue (July 2011) of Entrepreneur magazine.

"Nashville is justly celebrated as Music City, but the Tennessee state capital's dedication to the arts doesn't end at the Grand Ole Opry. Downtown Nashville is also the nexus of a thriving visual arts community." Pointing out that the city's Fifth Avenue corridor now boasts more than a dozen gallery spaces that attract some 1000 visitors each month during First Saturday, Jason calls what's happening here "Nashville's creative renaissance."

"Spirit of the River" by Charles Keiger

The article then credits The Arts Company as the gallery that pioneered the idea of making the arts a central part of the Nashville marketplace by establishing an art gallery in the middle of a downtown block full of dark empty buildings in 1996, now a vibrant artistic block that boasts many other art venues today.

But that's only the tip of the tipping point to which this article refers. That was then. This is now. The real challenge ahead for the world of art galleries and related artistic enterprises is the same as for other businesses--how to define and build a bold and energetic role for the arts in the new online marketplaces that are evolving all around us. The Arts Company is still leading a charge forward to making an art business a successful player in the middle of the new online marketplaces.

"Dancing Feet" by Norman Lerner

We have learned already that a brick and mortar location is part of the new way of doing business, but expecting that to remain the one and only venue for showing and selling art is a pipe dream. Those days are over. Not gone. Just over. That cannot be the sole model. The business of art is being challenged to the bone like all other businesses. Fortunately, the new days promise to be more interesting.

Necessity number one is latching on to the online revolution. How to harness social commerce in tasteful, exciting ways requires turning a business upside down and recreating it. Constantly recreating it. It helps that art is a passionate and creative enterprise by definition. Clearly, this is no time to be timid.

"Shelby Street Bridge" by Steven Walker

That's why we were attracted to Moontoast, our online social commerce platform. They are open to the challenge of taking online commerce beyond widgets. We are still at the very beginning of re-thinking our online initiatives. What we can say is that it is very labor-intensive. And very exciting!

We can also say there is something about Nashville that brings out the entrepreneurial spirit in lots of folks. It's the spirit that tells you when you know you are on to something you just go with it however far you have to go. For The Arts Company, being singled out as part of "Nashville's creative renaissance" gives us incentive and responsibility to keep on keeping on.

We are ready to embrace the new online art frontier to complement the 5th Avenue storefront we established 15 years ago, and we're looking forward to this unscripted future....