By Victoria Scott
One of my favorite parts of living in Music City is its proximity to exceptional performance spaces and as a result, access to incredible performers. For most people familiar with Nashville, this typically means events at Ryman Auditorium or Bridgestone Arena, not to mention the many music venues throughout the city. However, I feel equally lucky that Nashville is home to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) and the theatrical performances it hosts.
TPAC first opened its doors in 1980, with a total of 119 performances in its first year. Since then, the Center’s calendar has expanded to include up to 500 performances a year, accommodating as many as 500,000 audience members annually in the process. Today, the Nashville Symphony, Circle Players (a community theater), Nashville Opera, Nashville Repertory Theatre, and Nashville Ballet all call TPAC home.
As an added bonus, TPAC Education established Humanities Outreach in Tennessee (HOT) in the early 1980s. As of 2016, HOT has provided arts-in-education programs for over 1 million children across every county in the state. As we’ve seen dwindling attention toward, and funding for, arts education across the country, HOT sets a positive example for arts-focused fundraising efforts outside of Tennessee.
But of course, at its core, TPAC provides entertainment, and the entertainment does not disappoint. Upcoming shows include Evita, Cinderella, RENT, not to mention classics such as Beauty and the Beast and If/Then. If musicals aren’t your thing, you can still catch comedians and opera singers alike at TPAC. But as one of the thousands of lucky audience members at one of last year’s The Book of Mormon performances, I’d encourage you to give at least one of the incredible musicals a try.
Not only does TPAC host theatrical performances, it offers performance spaces for local artistic companies, thus contributing to the overall growth of the arts within the city. Not to mention, TPAC’s success has provided jobs, increased revenue in the downtown area, and added artistic recognition for an up-and-coming city in the South.