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REAL News & Events

Applications for the 2021-2023 REAL cohort will be accepted beginning July 7, 2021 with award notification made in mid August.

Racial Equity in Arts Leadership (REAL) Learning Cohort is relaunching this fall. Under new leadership, Wilna Julmiste Taylor , Assistant Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy and Janine Christiano , Strategic Funding & Initiative Manager at Metro Arts hope to bring a new dynamic and focus on how to approach inequity in arts institutions. The program will provide eighteen weeks of guest speakers and workshops followed by project-based practice.

REAL seeks to engage arts administrators, executive leaders of cultural institutions, community-based arts organizations, and individual artists in conversations about racial equity in the arts ecosystem. REAL is meant to cultivate a shared learning space for participants to learn and practice new language about race, and to think through larger issues of systematic and institutional racism. The ultimate goal of the REAL Learning Cohort is to foster change within one’s own practice and institution that will ripple into the arts ecosystem and everything it touches. REAL participants are required to attend all of the sessions with full support from for their organization. There is no cost for participation in the program. If selected for the cohort, each participant will receive reading materials in advance of each session. In exchange, one must ensure that their organization supports their participation fully in the cohort experience, including allowing for time-off to attend 100% of the required weekly sessions.

Since its inception in 2015, the Racial Equity & Arts Leadership (REAL) program has brought together arts administrators, executive leaders of cultural institutions, community-based arts organizations, and individual artists for seminars and organizational workshops designed to examine how institutional practices such as hiring processes and arts programming choices can advance racial equity in our community.

While the leadership team uses 2020 to design future programming which addresses Nashville’s rapidly changing landscape, communities, and the art sector you can still get involved in the conversation, through participation in upcoming events.

If you are interested in becoming part of the 2021 REAL cohort we will be accepting applications July 7, 2021 – August 4th, 2021. Candidates must be local to Nashville as the majority of sessions will meet in person.

Madonna and Child
The Form of Reform


Metro Arts, Curb Center Awarded $50,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to Relaunch, Expand Racial Equity in Arts Leadership

Emily Waltenbaugh

Funding will Support Expanded, Extended Opportunities for REAL Impact

The Metro Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts) and Vanderbilt’s Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy can soon relaunch and expand their popular Racial Equity in Arts Leadership (REAL) program as the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today announced Metro Arts has been approved for a $50,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support REAL. 

From 2015-2019, more than 70 participants from the Nashville arts community completed REAL’s six-month curriculum, designed for leaders and artists to learn about race, equity practices and ways to enact change within their personal practices, their organizations’ structures, and in the larger arts community.  In March 2019, four years of REAL cohorts’ experience and expertise culminated in a REAL Symposium at Vanderbilt, where 212 attendees experienced three dynamic days of learning, teaching and inspiration. 

With the Grants for Arts Projects award, Metro Arts and Curb will relaunch an expanded version of REAL, which will include longer, deeper engagements for the learning cohort, in-depth organizational analysis and collaborative projects. Nashville-based artists and leaders from local arts organizations will be able to apply for the program starting  summer 2021.

The revamped REAL program is among 1,073 projects across America totaling nearly $25 million that were selected during this first round of fiscal year 2021 funding in the NEA’s Grants for Arts Projects funding category.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support the Racial Equity in Arts Leadership program” said Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “Metro Arts and the Curb Center are among the arts organizations across the country that have demonstrated creativity, excellence, and resilience during this very challenging year.”

“The endorsement and recognition of the REAL program by the National Endowment for the Arts conveys the important work that is happening within our Nashville arts sector,” said Metro Arts Executive Director Caroline Vincent. “We are so grateful for the support and the opportunity to advance racial equity through the lens of the arts.”

“The Curb Center’s REAL partnership with Metro Arts is a proven catalyst for learning and engagement around racial equity,” said Curb Center Assistant Director Wilna Julmiste Taylor. “This grant will support our efforts in deepening that experience for participants to affect meaningful change in Nashville’s arts community.”

For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, view the NEA announcement

Members of the Nashville arts community interested in applying for REAL should email Janine Christiano, Metro Arts’ Strategic Funding and Initiatives Manager.



Applications for the REAL Cadre 
July 7- August 4, 2021