On July 19, The Nashville Food Project will hold its annual fundraising event, NOURISH, at the dining hall at Montgomery Bell Academy, bringing together Nashville’s
Stephanie Pruitt, a poet and a self-described “ARTreprenuer,” wants to help Nashville merge business and art. Currently, Pruitt serves as commissioner for Metro Nashville Arts Commission and sits on the board of directors for the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville. In April, the Nashville native started No Starving Artist, an organization that teaches creatives how to manage their products professionally—without “selling out.”
Poems and putt-putt: Pruitt loves the idea of poetry existing in untraditional venues. One of her most recent projects was to write a poem for the new putt-putt golf course at First Tennessee Park, where the walkway around the holes will be painted by a local artist. “I’m really excited to have a poem as public art,” Pruitt says. “I’ve been really interested in how poetry can live in unexpected places.” Her poetry also dwells online, in videos, in audio, and in gumball machine prizes.
Nashville inspirations: Pruitt’s local favorites include Radnor Lake, Centennial Park, and local galleries, including Julia Martin Gallery. But her inspiration frequently comes from unnoticed, obscure places in her hometown.
“There’s so much going on in Nashville that I’m just curious about,” Pruitt says. “My writing practice every day is to just literally drive around, find something that I haven’t seen before, sit, observe, and write about it.”
A poem is born: “Most of my poems start out of curiosity. There’s something that I’m trying to figure out. I learn through writing—the process of crafting a poem is almost synonymous to research to me,” Pruitt says. Whenever she sees something she is curious about, she jots it down and puts it in a bowl. When it’s time to write, she pulls out an idea. The following first draft of a poem—what she calls a “creative brain dump”—is always messy, but she revises over the course of several months until she is satisfied.
Marrying business and art: Before starting No Starving Artist, Pruitt was instrumental in the Arts and Business Council’s Periscope, a six-week artist entrepreneurship-training program. No Starving Artist encompasses several different initiatives, including an online membership portal, workbooks, workshops, artist intensives, courses, and small group coaching. Pruitt also hosts Mind Your Creative Business Mondays, a free weekly webinar series.
“I think when you take your work seriously enough to shape a business practice that will sustain it long-term, you free yourself to create anything that you want,” Pruitt says. “One of the highest ideals that most artists are working for is creative freedom; financial freedom can help bring that to reality.”