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REAL News & Events

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 or participating in REAL speaker events send your contact details to

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.



White Co-Conspirator Summit
March 19 – 20, 2021
Register HERE
Registration fee $150.00

Registration is open for White Co-Conspirator Summit, presented by Racial Justice Ministries at Scarritt Bennett Center

This virtual summit is designed to equip white co-conspirators, driven by a radical hospitality of love for and belief in the transformative power of the Beloved Community, those who are called to be agents of change disrupting and challenging ideologies and systems of oppression.

While we believe there is value for everyone to attend and participate, regardless of their social location, this summit is unapologetically intended to speak directly to white people about their role in dismantling white supremacy. Each of the summit’s workshops calls out a particular area of white supremacy in order to shift the dominant narrative, and provides ways to re-imagine collectively conspiring against white supremacist culture in order to foster a true Beloved Community.

For more information about this event, visit 


Upcoming Symposium on Racial Justice, Freedom and Activism in Nashville and Beyond: Then and Now 

March 26, 2021 – 9 A.M.

Register HERE


The Vanderbilt community will welcome a diverse panel of renowned civil rights and social justice activists, journalists, historians and scholars for an examination of Nashville’s role as an intellectual center of the struggle for racial justice, then and now.

The daylong virtual symposium, “Racial Justice, Freedom and Activism in Nashville and Beyond: Then and Now,” will be on Friday, March 26, starting at 9 a.m. CT. The event is hosted by the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in partnership with the Chancellor’s Lecture Series and the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy. The symposium is open to the public. Registration is required.

Learn more and register for the virtual event here.


Join the YWCA for the 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge! 

The 21 Day Challenge is designed to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. Learn more and register for the challenge here.


Disrupting Everyday Bias
For Vanderbilt Faculty & Staff ONLY
through May 2021
Register through Oracle Learning

This two-hour online instructor-led workshop introduces skills to disrupt the impact of bias in interactions, behaviors, and decision-making and the various ways unconscious bias can impede the development of a diverse and inclusive work environment. Participants are introduced to the tools and strategies which can be used to make decisions in a more conscious manner.

Contact Diversity Recruitment and Outreach Manager Yasmine Mukahal for inquiries.