Leadership Chattanooga is a 10-month leadership development program that allows local professionals opportunities to learn more about and engage with the community where they live and work. Leadership Chattanooga has been a launching pad for the careers and civic impact of some of Chattanooga’s most prominent professionals. We’re here to share their stories and catch up on what’s happened since they completed the program.
This month, Stratton Tingle, Executive Director of SoundCorps, shares insights about the impact of a vibrant arts community.
Trend: When did you graduate from Leadership Chattanooga?
Tingle: I’m a graduate of the Leadership Chattanooga Class of 2014, colloquially known as The Best Class Ever.
Trend: Tell us about yourself. What do you do (for work and for fun)?
Tingle: In 2015 I helped launch SoundCorps, a nonprofit dedicated to building the local music economy. When not running SoundCorps, serving on the board of the Chattanooga Convention and Visitor’s Bureau or collaborating on other community projects, I perform live music and help manage various dance parties and other events.
Trend: Name one way you think you have impacted the community.
Tingle: I hope that I’ve inspired creativity in our community.
Local musicians often remind me of the value of SoundCorps programming, which helps musicians and other music industry professionals think of their projects as businesses and run them with a business frame of mind. So, maybe we’ve been successful in helping local musicians to manage their finances more professionally, use stronger contracts, start tracking the growth of their company more effectively and more easily market to consumers.
While that’s the meat of what we do at SoundCorps, it’s not very sexy and most folks wouldn’t think of that work as “inspiring creativity,” but I think one of the main things artists need to thrive in a community is some infrastructure that allows them to progress in their chosen field. We work at the grassroots level on that infrastructure piece, which ideally allows artists to focus more on their creativity without having to worry so much about whether they’re going to get paid for that gig last weekend because they have a strong contract in place and they’ve moved beyond handshake deals and finger-crossing related to audience turnout.
All of that business-focused work hopefully frees up time and finances to allow artists and other music industry professionals to spend time being creative, which is my personal goal. I hope Chattanooga can cultivate and retain a stronger creative class, which greatly enhances the quality of life for us all.
Trend: What drew you to the Leadership Chattanooga program when you applied?
Tingle: I participated in Leadership Chattanooga during my fifth year working at the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce as a staffer on their membership team. The Chamber really believes in the power of good leadership and understands the importance of nurturing and developing the future leaders of Chattanooga, and I basically drank the Kool-Aid on that philosophy during my time with the company. The allure of following in the footsteps of past Leadership Chattanooga participants who became highly impactful community leaders drew me to the program.
Trend: How has the program impacted your career?
Tingle: I never imagined I would be a nonprofit arts administrator, but the depth with which the Leadership Chattanooga program explores community strengths and tensions has greatly informed my work, especially as it relates to equity, inclusion and the arts.
Trend: What practices do you follow (personally or professionally) that help you achieve success?
Tingle: I practice positivity and lean into my natural extroverted personality, so as long as I’m harnessing those energies through healthy eating, good sleep and moderate exercise, things tend to go pretty well for me.
I love being around people, but leading a startup nonprofit can skew one’s time toward isolation because of the massive workload. Luckily, I’m in the music industry, so I can fight loneliness by attending music and arts events on almost any given night. I battle burnout by writing and playing music, which can be meditative when solo or highly invigorating with collaborators.
Trend: What advice would you give someone who is looking for ways to become more connected to the community?
Tingle: Going through the Leadership Chattanooga program is a no-brainer for connecting to our community, and there are countless other ways to connect more deeply through civic engagement with local nonprofits, churches and civic organizations. Choosing what to devote your time to depends on what your interests are, but you can find a local organization or club for just about any hobby or activity.
Another leadership program I gained a lot of insight from was the Bill Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute, managed by ArtsBuild. If you’re at all interested in working in the arts in Chattanooga, I recommend you connect with ArtsBuild as soon as possible.