5 ArtsBuild Programs To Support Our Cultural Workforce  

Did you know the arts, culture and creative sector in Chattanooga-Hamilton County is a major contributor to the local economy? It’s surprising that it’s often overlooked in discussions about workforce development.

According to an Americans for the Arts report, this sector provides jobs for almost 6,400 full-time employees and generates a whopping $172 million in economic impact for Hamilton County. In addition, it generates more than $7.2 million in government revenue.

Just within the city limits, approximately $615,000 is spent each day on arts, culture, entertainment and tourism – highlighting just how important this sector is to the local economy.

Since 1969, ArtsBuild has invested in the arts through grant-making programs, arts sector services and arts education initiatives to build stronger communities. Here are five ArtsBuild programs that bolster Chattanooga’s creative economy and cultural workforce:

Tech Goes Home for the Arts

Artists and entrepreneurs participating in Tech Goes Home for the Arts. Image courtesy of ArtsBuild.

In the early days of the pandemic, many of the individual artists and arts organizations that ArtsBuild supports –especially the start-up and grassroots organizations— struggled to transition toward digital programming and fundraising. With the launch of Tech Goes Home for the Arts in 2020, ArtsBuild aimed to provide training and resources needed to make that pivot.

Designed in partnership with The Enterprise Center, Tech Goes Home for the Arts teaches artists and entrepreneurs or small arts organizations how to monetize their online presence while using digital and social media to connect to students, audiences and collaborators online.   

Through this course, participants also develop an online portfolio and gain access to professional arts resources. So far, 126 participants have graduated from Tech Goes Home for the Arts.

Opportunity Fellows

Young people curious about careers in the arts benefit from real-world experience and mentoring. The ArtsBuild Opportunity Fellows program places college juniors, seniors or recent graduates in a 10-week, part-time (10 hours per week), paid work experience with a local arts organization. The program includes guest speakers to lead professional development workshops while offering opportunities for networking and community engagement.

As awareness of the Opportunity Fellows program increases, applicants and interest in the program also increase. Of the four students who went through the program last summer, three of them have continued employment with organizations.

Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute

A local performance inside the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute. Image courtesy of ArtsBuild.

Established at ArtsBuild in 2005, the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute is a key program for career and workforce development within the arts and culture sector. The institute is designed for residents of the greater Chattanooga area who share a passion for advancing and engaging with the arts in our community. It offers behind-the-scenes site visits to cultural and educational institutions, case studies of arts agencies, panel discussions with community leaders about current issues facing the arts community, and a unique forum for pursuing shared goals among arts leaders, business leaders, educators and philanthropic foundations. The current class is the largest ever, with 34 participants including arts administrators, business leaders, artists and educators. 

Teacher and Teaching Artist Training

In partnership with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in D.C., ArtsBuild hosts several free professional development workshops for local teachers and youth educators. The workshops are led by nationally recognized leaders in arts education and focus on strategies to integrate the arts into literacy and learning in the classroom. Teachers also learn how to use the arts to help students establish a sense of self-control, accountability and teamwork while filling often overlooked gaps in a STEAM curriculum.

Grantmaking for Individual Artists and Professional Development Funding

James McKissic (right) and Stephanie Hong (left), one of six local artists receiving awards from the Racial Equity Grants for Individual Artists (REGIA) program. Image courtesy of ArtsBuild.

ArtsBuild has several avenues for financial, technical and professional development support for working artists and those using the arts in a way that engages our community. Through grant programs like the Racial Equity Grants for Individual Artists, Artists Work Grants, and Community Cultural Connections, artists can access funding that allows them to pursue projects and partnerships, training or further education.

With generous support from Benwood Foundation, Footprint Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ArtsBuild donors, ArtsBuild has invested more than $500,000 over the past three years in these programs which have supported more than 100 individual artists with direct financial support or professional fees, equipment and career development.

ArtsBuild is also involved in coordinating two other regional arts initiatives, Artists At Work and the Art + Climate Project, both of which connect artists with employment opportunities linking the arts and climate education towards action.

The programs described above are made possible through the generosity of the Benwood Foundation, Footprint Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Unum, the Nancy Lackey Community Education Fund, Thompson Engineering, U.S. Xpress, and donors to ArtsBuild’s Annual Campaign.

For more information about ArtsBuild, visit

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