published Sunday, January 15th, 2012

New showcase for Chattanooga

Chattanooga already is well known -- and widely envied -- for its embrace of the arts and its support of the region's varied cultural institutions. That reputation is likely to grow exponentially with the addition of HATCH, the first citywide collaborative arts and culture showcase to the community's cultural calendar. The initial event will be held April 13-22 at various studios, galleries and other sites across the city, and will feature artists, performers and groups from a variety of disciplines.

HATCH, an acronym for History Art Technology Culture Happenings, is a work in progress for the 20 or so organizations that helped give it life. Several familiar events will headline the festival, including the 4 Bridges Arts Festival, the Chattanooga Theatre Center's Biennial Festival of New Plays, the Mid-South Sculpture Alliance Conference, a performance by the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera and exhibits at the Hunter Museum of American Art.

A new event, however, needs more than the tried-and-true. HATCH promises to provide that, too.

For example, the initial event also will include 10x10, a new showcase that will feature creative work from individuals living in a 10-block area bordered by Riverfront, 10th Avenue, Chestnut and Houston Streets. Sponsored by MakeWorks, 10x10 hopes to display a variety of work from about 90 local artists. It's not too late for interested groups and individuals to participate in HATCH. Managers say additional artists and organizations are invited to participate. That's typical of cultural institutions in the community.

A spirit of cooperation is a hallmark of artists, performers and cultural organizations here. For years, they've worked together to promote and celebrate arts and culture. They've enlisted the help of public and private agencies and groups to support various endeavors that have made the community an oasis where art and culture have improved the quality of life and continue to play a significant role in attracting new business and residents. HATCH is the latest fruit of that hard and necessary work.

The 10-day event, which will have both free and ticketed events, offers an opportunity for residents and visitors to experience art, music, drama, history, technology and other art forms in broad and long form. Organizers clearly wanted to draw additional attention to the region's robust offerings in the arts and culture, and to entice visitors interested in them to spend more time here. HATCH, with assistance from the Lyndhurst Foundation and the Benwood Foundation, should provide a way to accomplish those worthy goals even as it expands Chattanooga's national and international profile.

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