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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most commonly asked questions and answers about the Tennessee Arts Academy.  


What is the Tennessee Arts Academy and when and where is it held?
The Tennessee Arts Academy is hosted annually in July on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The participants are K-12 teachers and administrators who come from all 95 counties throughout the state. The 2024 Academy dates are July 14 – 19.

Who is eligible to attend?
Any K -12 Tennessee arts specialist, classroom teacher or administrator may apply. There are also a limited number of slots for university professors, artists, pre-service teachers and others who do not currently teach in a K-12 school setting. All qualified applicants (those who meet Tennessee Department of Education grant guidelines) are considered for acceptance on a space available basis. First time applicants receive priority. Previous Academy participants will be accepted in order of application date after qualified first-time applicants have been admitted. The earlier you apply the better chance you have of being accepted.

How much does it cost?
The current cost for tuition is $449.00 for Tennessee teachers. Out of state tuition is $495.00. Tennessee university professors and any other individuals accepted to attend the Academy who do not teach in a K – 12 Tennessee school are assessed at the Arts Academy America rate of $495.00. All out of state K-12 teachers and university professors applying in Arts Leadership, Administration and Assessment are assessed a fee of $895.00.

When and how do I apply?
You apply on online at: http://taa.hanwi.com/. Early registration begins on October 1st and concludes on March 1. All qualified participants are guaranteed acceptance during this registration period. Regular registration begins on March 2nd and runs through the end of June or until all content areas are filled. Acceptance is on a first come-first served basis during the regular registration period.

If I am from out of state can I attend?
Yes. Arts Academy America is the name given to the national component of the Academy. TAA and AAA are thoroughly integrated and seamless in day-to-day operations. Teachers from any K-12 public or private school may apply to attend the Academy through Arts Academy America. Since 2002, we have welcomed participants from Georgia, Delaware, New York and even from overseas. There are a limited number of slots in each content area. Apply online at http://taa.hanwi.com/

Is there on-campus housing available and if so, how much does it cost?
TAA offers numerous on-campus housing options located in modern dormitory rooms on the Belmont campus. Prices and room types vary. Click here to access current TAA housing options and prices.
Please Note: TAA cannot guarantee room assignment locations, specific dorm buildings or dorm types.

Are we required to stay on campus?

No. You may choose to find private housing in the Nashville area or choose to book a hotel room. There are numerous hotels in the Belmont/Vanderbilt area.

Are meals included in the cost?
Yes, all breakfasts and lunches are included. A Sunday night buffet and Wednesday night banquet are provided. Participants are on their own for dinner on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday night.

What payment methods may I use to pay the registration and housing fees?
There are three ways to pay your fees for the Academy. You may mail a check, pay by credit card, or you may pay by cash in person at the TAA office in Nashville. An installment payment plan is available for Tennessee teachers. If you wish to visit the credit card payment portal to review your options for credit card payment, please click here. Please note that there is a small administrative fee added each time you charge a payment online. All payment options will be explained in detail in the acceptance packet you will receive upon your acceptance as an Arts Academy participant.

Are scholarships available?
Yes! The Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation has established a scholarship fund to help defray some of the TAA registration costs for participants who meet certain criteria. Each scholarship applicant is considered individually and fund allocations are limited. If you are interested in more information about scholarship availability, please contact the TAA office by email (taa@belmont.edu) or by telephone (615-460-5451).

Does the Academy offer Academic College Credit?
Sometimes after February 1st, the Tennessee Arts Academy will announce  its plan for providing Academic College Credit during the upcoming TAA summer session.  Detailed information about Academic College Credit will include cost, process for registration, course requirements, etc.  The fees will be paid by the TAA participant who desires to receive Academic College Credit and will be paid directly to the university that is offering the credit. All costs for Academic College Credit are in addition to the Arts Academy registration fee and any other Academy costs.

Does the Academy offer recertification credit for Tennessee teachers and TASL credit for Tennessee school administrators?
Yes. The Tennessee Arts Academy offers both Tennessee recertification credit and TASL credit. Tennessee principals and supervisors may earn the maximum allowable hours of TASL credit by attending all sessions of the Academy. All teachers who participate in the full Academy experience receive a certificate indicating they have been awarded 36 Tennessee PDPs (professional development points) toward renewal or advancement of their teaching license. NOTE: Each school system in the state has the option to determine what PDPs they accept. The vast majority of school systems in Tennessee have historically accepted the PDPs offered by TAA. It is NOT necessary to register for Academic College Credit to obtain the TASL or PDP licensure credit.

Explain the TAA curriculum I would encounter if I am accepted to attend the Tennessee Arts Academy.
A rigorous curriculum, cutting-edge methodology, and a unique philosophical perspective provided by leading academic instructors and artists from throughout the United States offer world class instruction, community and renewal to a diverse and enthusiastic group of K-12 educators from across Tennessee. The Academy consists of two tracks, one geared to elementary/lower middle school teachers and the other designed for upper middle/high school teachers. Participants are grouped according to their specific teaching assignment. These core areas include courses in visual art, music, and theatre. A special session in Arts Leadership and Administration concentrates on school leadership issues, fine arts assessment strategies, arts advocacy and national and state policy concerns. A unique "Trio Track" is additionally offered. This integrated arts track allows participants to attend daily individual classes in music, theatre and visual art. Two to three core sessions per day are spent in intensive study with a highly trained faculty of national and international experts gathered from both colleges and universities as well as from studios, workplaces and the professional world of the arts. In these classes the latest techniques are applied to instruction and are designed to directly aid participants in their own teaching.

What are Musings?
"Musings" is a time of thoughtful inspiration and introspection built into the heart of the busy Academy schedule each day. All participants assemble to think about the role of the arts in education and in life. At each Musings session, an individual who is significantly involved in the arts acts as a muse and leads the group in examining the richness and depth that the arts add to the lives of all people. Well-known Musers who have led these sessions include Broadway composers Charles Strouse (Annie), Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line), Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family) and Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls); concert pianist Lorin Hollander; lyricists Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof), Dean Pitchford (Fame), and Joe DiPietro (Memphis); costume designer Patricia Zipprodt (My Fair Lady); authors Wilma Dykeman and Will D. Campbell; theatre critic John Simon; conductors Michael Stern, Isaiah Jackson, Giancarlo Guerrero, Anton Armstrong, and Robert Bernhardt; author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds (The Dot); educator Graham Down; Emmy and Tony award-winning actress Cherry Jones; Shakespearean directors Adrian Hall and Tina Packer; Hollywood composers Richard Sherman (Mary Poppins) and George S. Clinton (Austin Powers); visual artists Audrey Flack, Dorothy Gillespie, Jon Moody, Beverly McIver, Charles Brindley, Dolph Smith, Alan Lequire, Harold Gregor, and Sylvia Hyman; Broadway directors Scott Ellis (1776), Jeff Calhoun (Newsies), and Richard Maltby, Jr. (Fosse); opera stars Mignon Dunn and Christine Brewer; New Yorker cartoonist Robert Mankoff; poet Nikki Giovanni; Tony award-winning playwright Christopher Durang (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike); bandleader and musician Doc Severinsen (The Tonight Show); classical composers Libby Larsen and Gabriela Lena Frank; scenic and costume designer Tony Walton; stage combat director David Leong (Carousel); Broadway book writer Rick Elice (Jersey Boys); filmmaker Jay Russell (My Dog Skip); three-time Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County); Broadway musical theatre stars Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), Stephanie J. Block (Wicked) Marin Mazzie (Ragtime), Jason Danieley (The Full Monty), Rebecca Luker, (The Secret Garden), Alton Fitzgerald White (The Lion King), Laura Osnes (Cinderella), and Aaron Lazar (The Light in the Piazza); television writer and producer Marc Cherry (Golden Girls, Desperate Housewives); author, composer, and lyricist Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and many others

I am an elementary classroom teacher with very little arts background. Is there anything offered at the Tennessee Arts Academy that is not intimidating for someone with little arts experience and at the same time designed to assist individuals become more effective educators?
YES! The Arts Academy elementary theatre division (grades K-6), is specifically designed for non-arts classroom teachers, librarians, special education, physical education and gifted teachers as well as others who wish to find new and exciting ways to enhance learning across the curriculum. No arts background or prior drama training is necessary or needed to attend. These classes target ways for teachers to super-charge their lessons utilizing unique strategies and innovative learning methods directed toward teaching language arts, math, science and social studies. Each day participants take classes in three areas of study: Arts Integration, Creative Drama and Movement. Arts Integration sessions help facilitate the learning process in traditional subject areas. The Creative Drama class focuses on improvisational and non-performance aspects of theatre with a strong emphasis on literacy, reading comprehension and critical thinking. A final daily class in Movement helps participants discover unique ways movement can be used to teach across the curriculum. All elementary theatre participants attend all three classes as well as performances, musings, special events and other TAA activities.

As an administrator in my local school district, I would like to do more to understand and support arts programs in the schools I serve. Does the Arts Academy offer any classes that would help broaden my perspective and meet my administrative goals?
YES! - The goal of the Arts Leadership and Administration track (ALAA) is to inspire and empower participants to support and advance arts education. Participants engage in practical and thought-provoking sessions that connect contemporary arts research and trends to targeted arts initiatives at multiple levels within schools, districts, and beyond. Content will be explored through field experiences that include visits to content sessions throughout the Academy to observe from the perspective of an arts leader. Numerous interactive discussions and webinars with state and national leaders are also part of the innovative curriculum. The ALAA track is designed to connect teachers, school and district leaders, program directors, and others who are interested in active arts education leadership.

How does the Academy rank in terms of other summer institutes?
The Tennessee Arts Academy has been recognized by leading academic journals and individuals as the premier summer arts teacher training program in the United States.

How did the Academy get started?
The Arts Academy was established as part of Governor Lamar Alexander's Better Schools Program in 1986 and has operated continuously since that time. Other training academies have long come and gone. Only the TAA has managed to sustain itself through innovative programming, fundraising support and outreach to the broader arts and business community.

How has the Academy impacted arts education in the state of Tennessee?
Since its founding in 1986, the Tennessee Arts Academy has impacted approximately 3 million Tennessee students and trained over 7500 teachers. In any one year, the 325 plus educators who attend the Academy impact over 150,000 - 200,000 students the following school year in classrooms all across the state.

Where does the Academy get its funding?
The Arts Academy is funded by a major grant from the Tennessee Department of Education. Additional funding comes from a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, financial support from the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation, and sponsorships and in-kind services from Belmont University. Private donors and businesses provide support through ad sales and event sponsorships. TAA Alumni donate through their membership in the TAA Alumni Association.  TAA participants and staff support the Academy through fundraisers including an annual silent and online auction.

How many people apply to attend and why can’t the Academy just take everyone?
Approximately 325 participants are selected each year to attend the Tennessee Arts Academy. Anywhere from 400-600 applications are received annually. Unfortunately, the Academy is forced to turn away potential participants due to a variety of factors. The main reason for limiting the participant number is funding. Space on the Belmont campus is also a factor. Maintaining manageable class numbers is also important in order to retain the effectiveness of each class session. The earlier a person applies, the better chance he or she has of being selected to attend.

Will the Academy this summer be on-campus or virtual?
The current plans are for the Academy to be an on-campus experience. If travel, activity, occupancy, or assembly advisories or restrictions are issued or imposed by federal, state, or local health and governmental authorities, and/or by Belmont University because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tennessee Arts Academy will switch to a virtual event and will alert all registered participants at the earliest possible date as soon as a decision has been made.

If you have further questions, please feel free to email (taa@belmont.edu) or call (615-460-5451) the Arts Academy office. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 1 PM to 5 PM.

Tennessee Arts Academy • Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation
615-460-5451 • 1900 Belmont Blvd. • Nashville, TN 37212 • taa@belmont.edu