Tullahoma Art Center Needs Help To Remain Open
by Shannon Royster
TULLAHOMA, Tenn. – An important piece of Middle Tennessee history is in jeopardy of closing. It's been around since 1968, and inside it's filled with the joy of art.
Sadly, the Tullahoma Arts Center – Tennessee's oldest continuously operating member owned center – is in trouble.
The center offers free classes for kids and adults, and paintings from members hang on every wall.
"We need about $40,000 just to operate," says Robert Allen, the center's resource development director.
The non-profit’s two part-time employees are taking drastic measures to keep the place afloat.
"We keep the lights off, and we keep the air conditioner at 77 which is hot," says Allen. "Katie and I donated at least a month worth of work."
State and private foundations give the art center lots of financial support for specific art programs and projects, not for operating funds.
The center has 300 paying members, and some of them have been putting in work since the day it opened 48 years ago. Others like Cyndee Kissel have only been there a few months.
"I think the arts are the icing on the cake for any community," she says. "It’s rather bland if you don’t have arts."
The center’s downfall started five years ago. Its director left, leaving no one to apply for state operations funding. They're in the process of getting back on track but Allen says it's a five-year requalification process and they may not make it that long. They're in need of support now.
"It's a pressing emergent need and were struggling," says Allen.
If you would like to help you can make a donation, become a member, or even rent the building. Just visit tullahomafineartscenter.org