A community is stronger in many ways when its arts and cultural economy is strong. Advancing the arts in our community takes dedication, effort, talent, as well as the leadership of many people engaged in and supporting the arts. Sometimes leaders are born, but more often, they are made through mentoring, education, experience and a passion for what they believe in. Dynamic leaders in the arts are a key to the success of a vibrant cultural life shared by all.

Honoring Arts Leaders in Chattanooga

ArtsBuild is proud to recognize leaders in the arts each year. ArtsBuild is accepting nominations now until March 31, 2022 for this year’s Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Award. The annual award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the arts in Chattanooga and who are actively engaged in the cultural life of our community. They exemplify through their work ArtsBuild’s mission to build a stronger community through the arts. 

The inaugural Arts Leadership Award in 2014 recognized Ruth Holmberg for her extraordinary support of the arts in Chattanooga for more than 70 years. Mrs. Holmberg, former publisher of The Chattanooga Times, was a remarkable woman and a pillar of civic life in Chattanooga. Since 2014, the annual award has honored Mrs. Holmberg with her name. Each recipient thereafter has been recognized for their own unique contributions to the arts. Past honorees include Mai Bell Hurley (1928-2015), another respected civic leader in Chattanooga and dedicated advocate of the arts; Fletcher Bright (1931-2017), well-known businessman in Chattanooga real estate and lover of bluegrass music; Sonia Young, also known as the Purple Lady, an active community volunteer and fundraiser; Booker T. Scruggs II (1942-2017) respected educator, mentor and musician; Alice L. Smith, local philanthropist and arts supporter; Warren Barnett, president of Barnett & Company and generous sponsor of the arts; Candy Kruesi, who has served in volunteer leadership roles for arts organizations for many years; Ann Law, dancer, teaching artist, and founder and Executive Director of Barking Legs; and Mitch Patel, president and CEO of Vision Hospitality Group.

Nominate an Arts Leader Today

Help us celebrate the achievements of those who have dedicated their time and resources to impacting the lives of others through the arts - whether through philanthropy, teaching, advocacy, or more. Do you know someone deserving of the Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Award? Nominations are due March 31. You can find the nomination form on ArtsBuild’s website at artsbuild.com/arts-leadership.

Cultivating a Passion for Arts Leadership 

The Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute is a program ArtsBuild launched in 2005 to bring residents of Chattanooga together who share a passion and enthusiasm for the arts. Over the past 15 years, the annual program which consists of behind-the-scenes visits to cultural institutions, case studies of arts agencies, and panel discussions about current issues in the arts, has served more than 400 participants including business leaders, teachers, arts administrators, philanthropists and more. The program provides a unique forum for those who want to give back their own talents, skills, and resources, whether serving as a volunteer, board member, fundraiser, or in other ways to make our local arts community as strong as it can be. Beginning in May, ArtsBuild will accept applications for the next Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute scheduled to kick-off in July 2022.

Photo: 2021 Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute Class

Internships Provide Real-World Experience

ArtsBuild is committed to supporting arts leaders of the future too. Through the ArtsBuild Opportunity Fellows program, college juniors, seniors, and recent graduates can apply to have a part-time paid work experience with a local arts organization. During the 10-week session, the fellows have professional development, networking, and community engagement experiences. Jules Jackson, an Opportunity Fellow with ArtsBuild in 2021, says, “The Opportunity Fellows program has been amazing for my career. Before I applied for the fellowship, I was anxious to find my place in the art world, and like many college students, I worried that I might find myself without a job after graduation. Not only did the fellowship provide me with professional development and arts administration experience, but it has also grown into permanent part-time employment. I feel much more confident in the trajectory of my career now, thanks to ArtsBuild!”

About ArtsBuild

ArtsBuild’s mission is to build a stronger community through the arts. We do this by generating resources to invest in Chattanooga's arts and cultural assets; facilitating access to arts opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds; cultivating creativity to enhance academic and personal growth; using the arts to strengthen the economic environment; and advocating for the role the arts play in our lives and in our community. For more information about ArtsBuild programs or ways to get involved in the arts, sign up for ArtsBuild’s weekly e-newsletter ArtsWire, and visit their website at artsbuild.com.