"What can I do for you, friend?"
That's Jennifer Cole, on the phone with me to discuss Artober, Nashville's monthlong celebration of arts and culture.
Cole has been the director of the Metro Nashville Arts Commission for three years, and in that short amount of time she's transformed the government arts organization into an exciting vehicle for art accessibility. She may self-deprecatingly compare herself to Leslie Knope — the hopelessly ambitious government official played by Amy Poehler on the sitcom Parks & Recreation — but Cole is every bit Knope's upbeat, quick-thinking spark plug, and during our conversation about this year's Artober programming, I could easily imagine her sitting at a desk with framed photographs of Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright just behind her.
Artober is held in conjunction with National Arts and Humanities Month, designated by Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Now in its third year, Artober has grown from a way to showcase Nashville art, music, theater and film into an occasion in its own right, complete with signature events like Art of the Word, a series of free artist-led workshops on creative writing, bookmaking, calligraphy and printmaking. But Cole is quick to point out that Artober has always been a way to get individuals involved in citywide art projects, and not the other way around.
"It was never an intent to have this top-down branding campaign as Artober," she says. "We wanted to create an organizing framework for an individual artist — or a screenwriter, or a poet, or a business — to connect to this idea in a way that makes sense to them, their neighborhood and their art practice."
And Cole is glad to see that the event is gaining momentum. "I actually think the most exciting part of Artober," Cole says, "isn't that we're getting more events, but that we're getting more artists involved, and people are joining and initiating their own things.
"We believe that there are so many creative people and things happening in the community, and that information is sometimes folks' only barrier to participation," she continues. "We want it to be a party that everyone can come to."
Oct. 3: Professional Development Workshop: Grant and Proposal Writing for Artists, presented by Seed Space at Track One Building (Fourth Avenue South and Chestnut)
Oct. 3: Parthenon Symposium — Paul Lancaster: A World of His Own, w/ Susan Knowles, presented by The Parthenon and at The Parthenon
Oct. 4-31: DOCTOBER at The Belcourt Theatre
Oct. 8: "Write Your World" Art of the Word Workshop w/Stephanie Pruitt, presented by Metro Arts at the Southeast Branch Library
Oct. 10-26: Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, presented by Tennessee Repertory Theatre at TPAC's Andrew Johnson Theater
Oct. 10: "Make Your Own Sketchbook" Art of the Word Workshop w/Lesley Patterson-Marx, presented by Metro Arts at the Southeast Branch Library
Oct. 11: Creativity Moves Nashville 2013 Conference & Evening Show, presented by Creativity Moves and at Vanderbilt University's Student Life Center Ballroom
Oct. 11-13: Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word, presented by Humanities Tennessee at War Memorial Plaza and the Tennessee Capitol
Oct. 15: "The Art of Chinese Calligraphy" Art of the Word Workshop w/Jen-Jen Lin, presented by Metro Arts at the Southeast Branch Library
Oct. 16: Ghost Brothers of Darkland County at Ryman Auditorium
Oct. 17: "Our Town: A Portrait of Nashville" Art of the Word Workshop w/ Bryce McCloud, presented by Metro Arts
Oct. 17: Artist's Forum with Alex Blau and Patrick DeGuira at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Oct. 18-20: 32nd Annual Native American Indian Association Pow Wow & Fall Festival, presented by the Native American Indian Association at Long Hunter State Park
Oct. 24: Artist's Perspective: 30 Americans Presented by Hank Willis Thomas at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Oct. 24: Picnic in the Park with Blue Moves and Tennessee Women's Theatre Project, presented by Metro Arts at Church Street Park
Oct. 24: Poet's Corner featuring TJ Jarrett at the Scarritt-Bennett Center
Oct. 30: Nash-Up: Remixing Nashville's Arts, Culture and Creative Future, presented by Metro Arts and the Nashville Scene at the Nashville Public Library
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