Nashville art commission gets $75K gift

Public art in Nashville has received a $75,000 boost.

The Nashville Arts and Entertainment Commission has been awarded an endowment from the estate of Richard J. Hoffman, a Fort Wayne businessman who died in November 2013, commission President Cathy Martin said.

The Hoffman Trust was created in August 2015 at the Noble County Community Foundation, and Martin said a portion of it was to be set aside for projects outside the Fort Wayne area.

Martin’s brother-in-law was a trustee, and when Martin pitched the idea of granting money to art and entertainment in Nashville and Brown County, it worked.

This gift is the largest the Nashville Arts and Entertainment Commission has received since it was formed in 2012 — at least five times its annual budget.

Town Manager/Economic Development Director Scott Rudd said it’s among the largest gifts the town has ever received.

The nine-member volunteer commission oversees public events and art installations in Nashville’s cultural district, Arts Village Brown County.

For 2016, the town gave the commission a $10,000 budget. The commission also can draw from a second, donor-funded pool that can be used for special projects, grant matching and other expenses not covered by the town appropriation, commission member Michael Fulton said.

Martin said $70,000 of the grant money has been placed in the Richard J. Hoffman Public Art Fund pass-through fund at the Brown County Community Foundation.

It also can accept other donations to help it grow. Rudd said it’s possible that this gift could even double if it’s used as matching funds.

Martin said $5,000 will go into the Nashville Public Art Fund at the BCCF.

The commission will not be able to touch the $70,000 for one year, and in the meantime, it will earn interest, Martin said.

That will give the commission time to figure out what to do with it. Since the award was announced Nov. 10, the commission hasn’t had time to decide, she said.

Martin said the plan may be to keep adding to public art in town, “but to do it in a measured way.”

Over the past three years, the commission has installed several sculptures around downtown, on lease for two years from the artists. Some of those may be moving to different locations, Martin said.

Next year, the commission is also going to focus on public gardens as public art, she said. There are plans to link public gardens in town with the gardens Selma Steele created at T.C. Steele State Historic Site in Belmont, which are undergoing a major, multi-year restoration.

“It would be kind of fun and also it would bring attention to (artist) T.C. Steele, which is such a gem that not enough people know about,” Martin said.

The commission sponsored a series of free concerts this summer and fall at the downtown Village Green Pavilion.

In addition, this year the commission submitted an “Our Town” planning grant proposal to the National Endowment for the Arts; collaborated with the Nashville Parking and Public Facilities Commission to install art in the Village Green Restrooms; helped develop the grant proposal for the Village Green Revitalization Project; and designated more downtown venues as art, entertainment and public art locations with leaf markers outside their doors.

The commission also worked with Indiana University SPEA student intern Anne Ellis to research how much of an impact the arts have on the Brown County economy, and hired Linda Margison as a part-time media coordinator to promote art activities in Brown County.

“We hope to cooperate more and more with (artists) outside of town,” Martin said.

Serve on the Nashville A&E Commission

The Nashville Town Council will appoint five volunteers next month to the Nashville Arts and Entertainment Commission.

Apply online through the town’s website at