By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
NASHVILLE — Get that popcorn ready then sit back and watch For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville.”
Why not? You paid for it, even if you’ve never cared for country music or that whole Nashville thing.
Specifically, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, which created the film, spent $300,000 in taxpayer money for ABC to broadcast a flashy one-hour documentary about the evolution of the music scene in Nashville. It’s scheduled to air next month.
The money came from a grant by the federal Economic Development Administration — for disaster relief because of the 2010 flood.
For the love of fiscal priorities, what’s going on here?
NCVB spokeswoman Leigh Anne Sanders would not discuss with Tennessee Watchdog how using taxpayer money for a documentary about music is an appropriate way to address flood relief.
“I think any questions about the purpose of the grant is best answered by the EDA,” Sanders said.
EDA spokeswoman Angela Martinez said it’s not at all unusual for communities to use federal disaster relief money for tourism development, regardless of how long ago that disaster happened.
“That’s typically how it happens. When you think about how a disaster really devastates a community, there’s quite a bit of time spent on just cleanup and recovery,” Martinez said.
“It’s like the hurricanes. You have to have time to get back on your feet and then say to yourself, ‘OK, now what do we need to do to start growing our economies again?’ You’re spending so much time cleaning up, helping displaced families, whatever.”
Federal EDA grants, she said, are tied to job creation, and local officials have to provide their own match, Martinez said.
“Those kinds of projects take a while to put together,” she said about why the money is being spent now.
Specific information about the grant was unavailable Friday.
The one-hour documentary about music in Nashville is scheduled to air Nov. 3, Sanders said.
Contact Christopher Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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