To lead with excellence in the performing arts and arts education, creating meaningful and relevant experiences to enrich lives, strengthen communities, and support economic vitality
The nonprofit Tennessee Performing Arts Center, located in downtown Nashville, is dedicated to providing and supporting the presentation of the performing and cultural arts.
Founded in 1980, TPAC serves several hundred thousand audience members each year with the HCA/TriStar Health Broadway at TPAC series, a variety of special engagements, and the productions of three resident artistic companies – Nashville Ballet, Nashville Opera, and Nashville Repertory Theatre.
In addition, TPAC administers one of the largest and most comprehensive arts education programs in the United States, serving students from pre-school to high school, educators, and adults.
Over almost four decades, TPAC has welcomed more than 12 million audience members and served more than 1.8 million students, educators, and adults with performances at TPAC, teacher resources, professional development opportunities, classroom residencies, and enrichment programs.
Located in the James K. Polk Cultural Center, TPAC occupies an entire city block between 5th and 6th Avenues and Deaderick and Union Streets. Performance venues include Andrew Jackson Hall (2,472 seats), James K. Polk Theater (1,075), Andrew Johnson Theater (256), and the War Memorial Auditorium (1,661), a historic concert hall located across 6th Avenue from the Center.
Dreaming of opportunities in the arts and a well-rounded education for their children and grandchildren, private citizens led by Martha Ingram proposed an arts center for the citizens of Tennessee to the state legislature in 1972.
After a private fundraising effort established an endowment, the state approved funding for the center, built in conjunction with the James K. Polk State Office Building and the Tennessee State Museum.
Prior to the September 1980 dedication, the legislature created the TPAC Management Corporation to oversee the public-private partnership and charged the unique nonprofit organization with providing affordable performance spaces for resident artistic companies and offering educational experiences in the arts for Tennessee school children.
During that first 1980-81 season, TPAC presented 119 performances for a total attendance of 84,000. The center was strengthened by the traditions of TPAC’s first two resident companies: Nashville Symphony, founded in 1946, and Circle Players, a community theater founded in 1949.
Three professional companies took residence at TPAC within the next five seasons: Nashville Opera, Nashville Repertory Theatre, and Nashville Ballet.
TPAC established Humanities Outreach in Tennessee (HOT) in 1983, receiving the Governor’s Award for Artistic Excellence the next year. A nationwide model for arts education programs, HOT has served children from the state’s 95 counties.
Following an operational merger with the Nashville Institute for the Arts in 2000, TPAC’s arts education programs, in addition to HOT, now include ArtSmart, which brings teaching artists to local schools; Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts, for pre-school children; TPAC Summer Institute, a comprehensive training program for teachers; TPAC InsideOut, designed to enrich the theater-going experience for adults; Disney Musicals in Schools, a program to create sustainable theatre programs in disadvantaged schools; and the Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards, or Spotlight Awards.
Nashville is now a major market for Broadway tours at TPAC, and the center also presents a variety of special engagements from iconic performers, musicians, comedians, dance companies, and more.
Nashville Ballet, Nashville Opera, and Nashville Repertory Theatre remain in residence at TPAC, following the 2004 departure of Circle Players and the 2006 construction of a new hall for the Nashville Symphony.
For some, TPAC is a dream come true. For others, it’s a gathering place for friends and families waiting to enjoy time and the arts together. A place to laugh or experience live theatre and music, TPAC is also good for the economy — attracting industry, creating jobs, increasing business downtown, and generating revenue.
Together, artists, audiences, administrators, educators, and supporters carry the mission of TPAC into the years ahead. We welcome you to visit us and become part in our ongoing story of growth, success, and service.