The Tennessee Performing Arts Center, or TPAC, is located in the James K. Polk Cultural Center at 505 Deaderick Street in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, occupying an entire city block between 5th and 6th Avenues North and Deaderick and Union Streets. Also housing the Tennessee State Museum, the cultural center adjoins the 18 story James K. Polk State Office Building.
The idea for a large-scale performing arts facility developed in 1972 when Martha Rivers Ingram was appointed to the advisory board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. She proposed a similar center for her home city of Nashville. Ingram's proposal involved a public-private partnership that would operate within a state-owned facility. Her idea met with considerable resistance, but she persevered—for eight years and during the terms of three governors. The result was the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, or TPAC, a three-theater facility located beneath a state office building across the street from the Tennessee State Capitol. In 1980, TPAC opened as the state's premier theater venue.
Among its many operations, TPAC presents a series of touring Broadway shows and special engagements, and administers a comprehensive education program. Martha Rivers Ingram and her supporters also raised an endowment to defray operating losses and to fund a program that grooms future audiences for TPAC performances. The endowment goal was $3.5 million, and they surpassed it, raising $5 million.
Today, the endowment has grown to $20 million. Each year, more than 100,000 students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, are brought to Nashville for performances by Nashville Ballet, the Nashville Opera, and the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, which are all resident performing arts groups of TPAC and provide year-round programming. Other companies also use TPAC's facilities for plays, dance performances, concerts and other cultural programs.