A! Magazine for the Arts

"Tanasi" Arts Center Proposed for Northeast Tennessee

March 5, 2007

This article was published in March 2007.

JOHNSON CITY -- The economic development board of Unicoi County in conjunction with students in the MBA program at East Tennessee State University are studying the feasibility of building a cultural arts center in Northeast Tennessee.

The center, which will be called "Tanasi" (the Native American word for Tennessee), would offer cultural activities and products from our region. A piece of property, located at I-26 Exit 23, between Johnson City, Tenn. and Asheville, N.C., has already been donated for the building. Plans include a stage/auditorium where dance, music and plays may be presented and a retail outlet for fine art and crafts, as well as space for art classes and possibly art studios.

In addition to the survey, the students will prepare a business model and business strategy after conducting an economic impact study, marketing research, and benchmarking analysis. The survey will take less than 10 minutes of your time. To participate in the survey, click here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/Users/63885809/Surveys/150343302449/F22FE10B-B58C-41AA-B598-94EBED20D33C.asp?U=150343302449&

Also scheduled are two public meetings to discuss the proposed arts center:
--- March 15 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall, next to the U.S. Post Office at the corner of 2nd Street and Main Avenue in Erwin, Tenn., and
--- April 11 at 6 p.m. at the Johnson City Public Library at the corner of N. Roan Street and Boone.

All artists are invited to attend the meetings and to take the survey. Participants may represent fine art, the performing arts, craftsmen, and the traditional arts (quilts, pottery, sculpture, wood turning, weaving, corn husk dollmaking, musical instrument making).

According to Patsy Reading, a member of the Watauga Valley Art League, several local artists have been working on the Tanasi project for many years, includilng Johnny and Pat Lynch, Urban Bird, and Martha Erwin. She says the Tanasi Art Center would be similar to Tamarack in Beckley, West Virginia (http://tamarack.terradon.com/default.aspx) which has been a huge success at both state and local levels.

Reading says, "Please pass the word. We need a big crowd at both meetings. Financing depends on the turn-out and the interest shown. It is a chance for Northeast Tennessee artists to get on the Artistic Map and not have to go out of state with our artwork to get the prices we deserve. You all know how hard it is to make a living as an artist in these beautiful mountains of Tennessee. Tanasi could help all of us."