This annual award was established to recognize an individual who has made significant contributions to the arts in Chattanooga and is actively engaged in the cultural life of our community. The award honors an individual who, through his or her exemplary efforts, has significantly contributed to building a stronger community through the arts.
Community members are invited to join in celebrating Fletcher Bright's award. To find out more about purchasing tickets to the event,click here.
Reprinted here is an article Marshall Bright wrote about Fletcher for the February edition of the Lookout Mountain Mirror:
Lifetime Lookout Mountain resident and nearly-lifetime fiddle player Fletcher Bright has been named the recipient of ArtsBuild's 2016 Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Award. The award, which was established in 2014, "recognize[s] an individual who has made significant contributions to the arts in Chattanooga and is actively engaged in the cultural life of our community," according to a press release from ArtsBuild.
The award recognizes decades of work in the arts, both on the stage and behind the scenes. Fletcher first became involved in the arts as a performer, playing with his friends in The Dismembered Tennesseans, a band whose gory name has connoted nothing but good family fun for generations of bluegrass fans. The D.T.'s, as they are affectionately referred to, have been "playing for weddings, the Kidney Foundation, anybody who will fork up some money. Some for free," as George Bright, Fletcher's eldest, put it.
But Fletcher's contributions aren’t just limited to the stage; he has also proved to be a patron of the arts, time and time again, as a supporter of organizations like Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and the Nightfall Concert Series, amongst others. In the past few years, he and George have also worked to make the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival a local institution, offering free music to all for two days each fall.
Fletcher said that he didn’t hesitate in accepting the award, especially since it was named after Ruth Holmberg because she's "the ultimate in arts and giving. It's a real honor to be associated with her name." Fletcher was nominated for the award by Laura Walker, longtime bandmate and executive director of the Chattanooga Folk School. Walker told ArtsBuild that Fletcher is "a renaissance man – a successful real estate builder, developer and manager, a real tycoon, but foremost, he is a musician, playing piano and fiddle, well and strong, with a smile on his face, sharing his love of music with fellow musicians and performing for audiences far and wide."
While Fletcher was surprised to hear of his receiving the award, the news was less surprising to his family, (including the author of this piece, Bright's eldest, and rumored to be favorite, grandchild) who are all used to seeing their patriarch feted by local and national organizations. We may have lost count of the exact number over the years, but a few stick out, such as a 2005 Governor's Award in the Arts from Governor Bredsen, who Fletcher recalls as "the last Democrat that we ever saw around here."
Aside from being a local living legend, accomplished fiddler, and philanthropist, Fletcher is also the loving father, grandfather and uncle to a brood of yellow dog Democrats and bluegrass enthusiasts of varying musical skill. While not all Brights are invited to the stage (and some are told to stick to the writing, not the singing), we have all grown up knowing the joy and the passion that accompanies a true love of music. Chattanooga is lucky to have him, but we are luckier to have him still, not only for the lessons learned about Bill Monroe but also lessons on family, humor and kindness. While no one award could sum up Fletcher's contributions to our city and our lives, we think the Ruth Holmberg Award is a pretty good start.
(Author's note: Fletcher declined to comment on who actually is his favorite grandchild, though the author would like to note that, as of publication, none of Bright’s other six grandchildren have ever written an article about him.)