Chattanooga Now City Beat: An exciting, if unsettling, time to be here

Chattanooga Now City Beat: An exciting, if unsettling, time to be here

August 24th, 2017 by Barry Courter in Chattnow Music

I've had several conversations in the last couple of weeks with people in a variety of positions in the local arts and entertainment scene, and there are several common themes that come up.

First, there are some really cool things happening in our city right now, but it's not all rainbows and unicorns for everybody.

While there is no doubt that the quality and quantity of really great things to do here in town are on the upswing, there is still plenty of room for improvement. And there are some voids that need to be filled, and there are challenges to be overcome.

The biggest challenge, as always, involves support. We have more creative people bringing cool ideas to town, but we don't always have the numbers to support them all.

An example of this can be found in the local music scene. From my perspective, there are more talented musicians in our area than I can ever remember.

Barry Courter

Barry Courter

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

From Facebook Live to podcasts, to busking to flooding social media with their work, they are doing all kinds of interesting things, and they are finding creative ways to be heard.

They are doing that in part because there are not a lot of places to play. At least not venues of the traditional variety like clubs, bars or theaters. This could change in the coming months with the old Jump Park on the Southside being made into a Marathon Music Works venue. There are a couple of other changes in the works, and I'll have more on that later.

There are only so many dollars to go around, and many of our traditional arts organizations are feeling the pinch. Not that long ago, you had a few individuals and businesses doing a lot of the funding for the relatively few arts organizations in town. Today, there are dozens and dozens of viable arts groups looking for funding from hundreds of people who don't have the historical connections to any of those traditional groups.

Quite frankly, they don't care about them and have no reason to.

A lot of it can be best described as growing pains. There is so much happening, and it feels like we are in a period of figuring out what will survive and what won't make the cut. Just a few years ago, everything seemed to be focused on the riverfront, and the idea of turning the Southside into the city's center for adult night life was a concept. It's a reality today.

Things are changing quickly, and even the people I talked with who are perhaps worried about whether their idea, business or particular interest will survive, all say it is an exciting time to be part of a changing city.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.

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