The Williamson County Board of Commissioners approved a request Wednesday to put a mural on the side of the Nolensville Recreation Complex to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification in Tennessee.
The mural is part of the DMA-Events Walls for Women program, which seeks to celebrate the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage in Tennessee by painting murals throughout the state created by all-female teams. DMA-Events, in which the acronym stands for “do more art,” is a nonprofit organization focused on improving communities through public art.
DMA-Events has worked since April with Nolensville residents and businesses to try to put the mural on the side of a private business in the historic district of the town. Ross Muirhead, who's on the economic development committee for the town, said he believes a mural would be an easy way to bring people to the area and boost the economy.
“Our town is a small town. We don’t have the resources that Franklin or Brentwood has,” he said. “So, it was just like, what can we do as a small town that could help our town and have the most impact? And that’s when I thought a piece of art, some paint. It’s relatively low cost, so you do a mural, and you can have such a huge impact on the businesses.”
DMA-Events became a partner in the effort and asked the Nolensville Board of Mayor and Aldermen for $7,500 to fund the mural. The request was denied, spurring Muirhead and local resident Debbie Brown to launch a Kickstarter campaign.
By the end of the campaign, 93 residents had contributed nearly $11,500 to go towards the mural. Brown said the leftover money would go towards an initiative called Round Up for Nolensville, which financially supports local nonprofits.
However, after a long conversation during its meeting, the Nolensville Historic Zoning Commission denied a business owner’s request to paint an exterior wall of his building with the mural, as the commission did not feel the mural appropriately met the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for rehabilitation, standards that were referenced due to the town’s lack of guidelines pertaining to murals in the historic district.
Josh Hughes, the chairman of the zoning commission, said on June 25 this could be an opportunity to add to the historic zoning standards and “hopefully get a mural in the historic district that we feel is appropriate.”
Williamson County District 5 Commissioner Beth Lothers said some people involved in the mural efforts suggested searching instead for new locations along a greenway and perhaps in the park system and began conversations with local officials.
“Everybody is positive about this mural happening for tourism on the greenway along the trail across from the new playground, that it was a win-win for the community to have a Walls for Women mural on the out building,” Lothers said to the County Commission Budget Committee last week.
Ellie Westman Chin, CEO of Visit Franklin, the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it would be a great spot for a mural.
“We know from our research that visitors look for murals," she said. "They go to find them, and they want their picture in front of them so they can tweet that out or put that on Instagram, so murals are a nice draw for our county as a whole."
The commission approved the resolution unanimously.
For more information about DMA-Events and Walls for Women, visit DMA-Events.com.