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MHRC Nods to Settling Notable Title VI Arts Complaint, Paving Way for Funding of Public Art Projects in Nashville

Artists Discussing Agreement Document

MHRC Approves Proposed Arts Complaint Settlement

Artists’ Title VI Complaint Reaches Conciliation Through MHRC

In a recent turn of events in Nashville, Metro Human Relations Commission (MHRC) approved the terms for a conciliated agreement on a notable Title VI complaint lodged by a group of artists in October. This development becomes a significant stride towards resolving the disagreement that revolved around the funding of public art projects.

The “Make-Whole” Financial Provision

The newly approved agreement is set to fully finance the applications for 26 public art projects (majorly murals), which had been sidelined in the Arts Commission’s 2024 fiscal year funding allocations. The solution does not hold Metro Legal and the Metro Arts Commission responsible for any faults and the complainants are required to relinquish any potential legal claims against the Metro.

Origins of the Complaint

Parties, who filed the Title VI complaint, alleged that their civil rights were violated and they experienced discriminatory conduct from the Metro Arts Commission. This came after the commission reversed its vote on a funding formula during the latter part of the last year. It resulted in funds allocation changes – part of the commission’s budget initially intended for individual artists and small arts organizations was reallocated to maintain previous year’s funding for larger arts organizations.

MHRC Steps In

The MHRC, back in March, established probable cause that a Title VI violation had taken place, thus deciding to hold a public hearing should conciliation efforts not meet the intended resolution. The commission’s fact-finding report cites strong influence from Metro’s legal department as being instrumental in the commission’s decision to rescind its initial vote.

Legal Contention and Agreement Reception

Nevertheless, the terms of the agreement have drawn mixed reactions. Complainant Christine Hall noted the adamant legal position held by Metro Legal, with no admission of wrong-doing on their part. Moreover, the role of Metro Legal drew criticism from MHRC Commissioner Garlinda Burton, who voted against the agreement.

On a positive note, Commission Chair Maryam Abolfazli expressed hope despite her rationale that we all want more. Expressing her view on the situation, she said, “We’re here today saying we want more, but hell if I thought we could get this.”

Lydia Yousief, a complainant, expressed mixed feelings about the agreement. Nevertheless, indications are that both Metro Legal and the Arts Commission, through their representatives involved in the conciliation process, intend to sign the agreement.

Next Steps

The Arts Commission is set to approve the terms of the agreement at their forthcoming meeting. This will pave the way for the representatives of the parties involved to draft a final version of the agreement, pending execution by the end of July.

MHRC Nods to Settling Notable Title VI Arts Complaint, Paving Way for Funding of Public Art Projects in Nashville

HERE Nashville
Author: HERE Nashville

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