Jun 22, 2022 - Politics

TPAC could be part of East Bank cultural campus

Cast members from "The Lion King" musical on stage.
Cast members who performed in "The Lion King" at TPAC this year. Photo: George Walker IV/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

Nashville Mayor John Cooper wants a cultural campus — one that could include new homes for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and the Nashville School of the Arts — to be included as part of the East Bank redevelopment.

Driving the news: TPAC representatives and Cooper's administration have had preliminary talks about a new center, the two sides confirm to Axios. As soon as next week, TPAC will begin participating in the ongoing East Bank planning process, Cooper spokesperson TJ Ducklo tells Axios.

Why it matters: Redevelopment of the East Bank and a potential new Titans stadium are top projects pursued by Cooper as he closes out his first term and pivots to a likely reelection campaign.

  • There's built-in pushback that either project will be aimed more at tourists than residents.
  • Including a cultural campus could provide Cooper with a counterpoint to that criticism.

What they're saying: Cooper said in an emailed statement that Nashville has a "unique opportunity to create a neighborhood from the ground up."

  • "Getting it right means parks, space for the arts, affordable housing, and multi-modal transportation — not just another entertainment district," Cooper says.

Catch up quick: The East Bank of the Cumberland River is home to some of Nashville's most ambitious new projects, stretching from the new Oracle headquarters to a possible new Titans stadium.

  • As part of the redevelopment, the city has been engaged in a planning study with input from an array of stakeholders. Cooper also included $500 million in infrastructure as part of the recent capital spending plan.

Context: TPAC is considering its options as its current home, the state-owned James K. Polk building, faces its own redevelopment.

  • A TPAC spokesperson tells Axios "it would be preliminary to narrow down or single out any specific plan at this point." However, executives are working closely with state and Metro officials to "explore what will best support TPAC's nonprofit mission and role as a cultural anchor in Tennessee."
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