NPT Arts Break

Nashville Public Television's Weekly Window to the Arts in Nashville

90 Years of Theatre

The Nashville Children’s Theatre was founded in the early 1930s by the Nashville Junior League as part of a national trend to serve the needs of children’s cultural awareness during the Great Depression. Ninety years later, the organization continues its strong tradition of not only fostering cultural awareness, but also meeting the emotional and mental needs of children of the community.

Throughout its rich history, Nashville Children’s Theatre has been thoughtful about expanding its service and access to young people. This includes being one of the first institutions to desegregate in the 1960s, to shifting to all virtual programs after the March 3, 2020, tornado in Nashville.

Today Nashville Children’s Theatre serves over 80,000 people annually and continues to build generational memories in children not only in Nashville, but around the world. “What we create here will help both ignite their brains and help them lose themselves, and also maybe gain, a little heart and empathy along the way,” notes Ernie Nolan, executive and artistic director. Nolan joined the organization in 2017, and enjoys sharing its history while also meeting the needs of its audience and overcoming obstacles to help serve young people for the next 90 years.

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