Rutherford County Creatives Spreading Cheer


As social distancing continues, those involved with the Rutherford Arts Alliance (RAA) are not sitting still while remaining isolated in their homes. The organization is committed to supporting family’s well-being, especially their mental health, while at the same time helping artists financially affected by the Coronavirus.

“Creativity is therapeutic and it cheers the spirit,” said Ginny Togrye, immediate past chair of RAA. “So, we set up the Creative Cheer Project that allows artists to invite families in advance to participate in a Facebook Live event. The artist will provide a list of materials that families need to gather from their home before they join. Our first artist is Susan Carter who will be making cheerful cards with animal pictures that can be sent to friends and family currently far away.”

Because the organization always has its finger on the pulse of what is happening around the country in the creative community, they got the idea from watching what other communities were doing to cheer the spirits of their communities. RAA will also be able to pay artists planning and leading the workshops, by turning their budget for in-person workshops into Facebook Live Workshops.

“We have been posting some of the resources we discover as well,” added Togrye. “Check out these hashtags on the Rutherford Arts Alliance Facebook page or the Creative Connector Facebook group: #stayhomeandstayinspired, #makeartbewell,#quarantineart #wereallinthistogether, #stayhomesavelives, #rucoartstn, #visitrutherfordtn, #madeintn, and #discoverrutherford.”

There is no charge to participate in the Creative Cheer Project, and the first session was cast by Susan Carter from Creative Connector on April 11 at Creative Cheer Family Projects on Facebook Live, as well as on the RAA website.

After the Cheerful Greeting Cards project led by Carter, RAA Member and Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Cultural Arts Department staff member, Lisa Browning, will teach an easy way to make face masks. She will lead her session next week. Other sessions include making a collage with found materials, and they are trying to organize sessions with music and the written word, but they are looking for representative artists from these other artistic communities to develop and lead a session. Maybe even dance and theater. Feelers are out to reach beyond the visual arts.

After each session, RAA hopes to share what families have done together by adding participant results at the end of the segment. The artist will encourage each family to share their work on Creative Connector which will be added to the video and will reside on the RAA website.

Togrye refers to an article by Priscilla Clark, a reporter who wrote an article about a study on the health benefits of the arts done by Drexel University, when asked about why this project is so important right now. “Making art is actually, factually, good for the body, mind and soul,” Clark wrote. That study found that just 45 minutes of creative activity lessens stress in the body, REGARDLESS OF YOUR LEVEL OF ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE OR TALENT!”

“In the rapidly changing world of coronavirus,” said Togrye, “we all need to remind ourselves that creative activities are an important part of wellness…, [and] the Rutherford Arts Alliance wants to help you stay home and stay inspired! We’ll be posting a series of online events, resources, virtual tours, and more — often with a Rutherford County connection.”

Connecting creatives and community is what RAA is all about, so they want to share all online creative resources that families can use to help reduce stress and have fun together. Anyone with an additional online creative asset they wish to contribute to the RAA archive, just let them know and they will add it to the list. Or anyone feeling inspired who wants to share recent work can do so at the following hashtags: #stayhomeandstayinspired and #makeartbewell.

“It is so inspiring the way creatives have joined in to give and inspire,” said Togrye. “I have seen chalk drawings, poetry, inspiring quotes, and signs. The participation on the virtual gallery from artists with the things they are working on while quarantined is amazing. Please everyone, keep sharing.”

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