Enhancing Nashville’s Creative Communities
A Blueprint for Supporting Arts & Entertainment

We are Music City, U.S.A. From the Fisk Jubilee Singers to decades-old publishing houses to the Grand Ole Opry, music has been an essential part of Nashville’s identity for over a century. It is the first thing many people think of when they hear “Nashville,” and it’s a primary reason why we’re seeing such unprecedented growth. Compounded with the recent success of the television show Nashville which filmed six seasons on location and spent over $225 million, we saw a melding of our city’s musical and televisual talent, leading to increased expertise that we can deploy at a moment’s notice. While our creative communities help define the character of our neighborhoods, however, they’re often taken for granted by Metro government. If we want to improve affordability and ensure that Nashville remains an inspiring place to live for artists of any medium, we need to take concrete steps to improve their quality of life. 

Reinstate the Metro Nashville Film and Television Commission
Years ago, Metro government dissolved our city’s film office, and it put us behind the curve on attracting film industry investment. Despite this closure, we were still able to attract and retain various films and television shows. Now just imagine what we could accomplish if we truly supported our film and television professionals.

My administration will reinstate the Metro Nashville Film and Television Commission and work with the Tennessee Entertainment Commission to bring more projects to Davidson County. The office would maintain a database of diverse shooting locations, and work with other Metro departments to streamline permitting and public safety needs. New productions will lead to an infusion of funds via new revenue streams and employ thousands of local creatives in the process. These jobs, especially long-term television productions, will pay higher than average salaries, help incubate our city’s talent, and allow us to grow our technical infrastructure. The return on investment from establishing a full-fledged film commission has the potential to bring millions of new dollars into our budget that we can invest in our priorities. 

Legalize Home Recording Studios
As Music City, it’s unacceptable that it is currently illegal to collaborate with other musicians within a home studio, to use home recording studios commercially, and to have taught music lessons at the house of the instructor. With reasonable regulations that also protect the character of our neighborhoods, home recording studios should be legalized across Davidson County. My administration will make it easier for residents to create music in their homes and open businesses. It’s time for Nashvillians to be able to do what they love without being penalized. 

Strengthen Media Arts Education
Strengthening media arts education in our high schools and local colleges is key to ensuring that the next generation of professionals is prepared to enter these competitive industries. On a micro-level, every school in Metro Nashville should have a thriving and well-funded media education curriculum that allows students the opportunity to experiment with photography, musical instruments, recording software, television and film production equipment, and digital media design. As our global economy further transitions to a knowledge-based model, these artistic skills will only become more important in setting residents apart as they search for a job.

Protect Our Character
Music Row is more than just a neighborhood -- it’s a symbol for artistic collaboration that remains essential to our city’s music industry to this day. In May 2019, Music Row was named one of our country’s most endangered landmarks by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Where landmark albums were once recorded, we now see modern high-rises and a rash of development. We must be transparent about any future development on Music Row in order to preserve the history of this quintessential Nashville neighborhood.

The recent Music Row Vision Plan is a good start, but, over the coming years, we must continually evaluate its effectiveness and make improvements based on community feedback. As mayor, I would support investment in a preservation fund to ensure that Music Row and other historic areas are not demolished for the sake of new development.

Furthermore, I will protect the dedicated funding stream for Live on the Green and other Metro-funded community enrichment events. These events are cherished by our residents and artists alike, and will not be on the chopping block. 

Say “No” to Privatized Parking
The hospitality industry employs thousands of musicians and creatives around the county,  and their ability to make a living is dependent upon locals and tourists alike visiting their establishments. Parking privatization threatens our hospitality industry, and thus the paychecks of our creative community. When residents have to pay for parking that was previously residential and free, it disincentivizes them from spending more money in bars, restaurants, and concerts. My administration will oppose any attempt to privatize parking, especially to fill a one-time budgetary gap. Rest assured, as mayor, I will find other ways to pay for budget shortfalls, none of which come at the expense of working families. 

Living in Nashville
Our creative community makes Nashville unique and vibrant. Many residents chose to move here for the music, food, and the art created by our talented residents. But with a rising cost of living and increased congestion, we’re making it more difficult for both artists and working families to thrive in Nashville.

Artists frequently have to contend with sporadic pay, irregular schedules, and lack of access to essential social and city services. If we want to be a progressive city that nurtures creative growth, then we need to take our affordability and transit issues seriously.

Affordable housing is essential for artists to be able to live in Nashville. A musician who is just starting out often can’t afford the over $1,000 a month it costs to rent a studio apartment close to Music Row. To foster creative growth and provide housing for our city’s artists and their families, my administration will look to build specific developments that are geared toward the needs of artists. To make this type of community development possible, I will look to increase investment in the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing to $50 million a year within five years, and work to establish stronger partnerships with the non-profit and private developers who are dedicated to building innovative and affordable housing. 

Nashville also needs to enact short-term solutions to alleviate traffic, and then work with state and regional stakeholders to develop a long-term transit plan that will serve artists and working families across Middle Tennessee. We cannot wait five more years to develop a concerted plan to address transit, which is why I am committed to a transit referendum in my first term.

This is a working document based on feedback from thousands of residents across Nashville. Have an idea? Contact us at info@johnrayclemmons.com.