published Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

HATCH celebrates arts, culture

Chattanooga owns an enviable reputation for its appreciation and support of the arts and the region's diverse cultural institutions. That repute can only increase with the opening of HATCH, the city's first collaborative arts and cultural showcase. It begins Thursday and concludes on April 22.

HATCH, an acronym for History Art Technology Culture Happening, is the product of months of planning by nearly 30 sponsors and partners. The event, like other projects, programs and events that have changed the face and the direction of the community in recent decades, is the result of positive collaboration between public and private entities. Given that, HATCH promises to be an engaging 10 day-festival.

It will include both familiar and new programs. The former includes the Four Bridges Arts Festival, exhibits and programs at the Hunter Museum of American Art, performances by the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, a Chattanooga Theatre Center production and the Mid-South Sculpture Alliance and Annual Conference. There's even a spring plant sale and festival on the agenda. That's not all HATCH has to offer. There's much more.

Indeed, the festival includes about 200 events during its run. Most but not all events are in the heart of the city; those that are not are located nearby -- Amnicola Highway and Lookout Mountain, for example. All will provide a positive opportunity for residents and visitors to see and experience art, music, drama, history, technology and many other art forms in a variety of formats.

Included in the long and varied program are lectures, exhibits and workshops at various sites, video presentations, band and other musical performances, arts and cultural events on college campuses, a Kidz Expo, a tailgate party and parade and a film festival. One of the centerpieces of HATCH is 10x10, a showcase that will feature the 100 creative works by 100 artists on display in 10 blocks downtown. The sum of HATCH's varied parts is a city, community and regional celebration of great promise.

HATCH, which includes both free and ticketed events, is the latest cooperative venture here that celebrates and promotes art and culture and that, by doing so, brings welcome attention to the quality of life that is instrumental in attracting new businesses -- and residents -- to the community.

Organizers of HATCH have planned an event that should attract large crowds. The foundations, organizations, groups and individuals that labored long and well to burnish Chattanooga's reputation as a haven for art and culture are a mostly unsung group -- and prefer that attention be focused on their work, not themselves. The best way to honor that preference is to participate wholeheartedly in the 10 days of HATCH.

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