WHO WE ARE
THE MISSION OF BIG EARS—AN INDEPENDENT 501(C)3 NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION—IS TO COLLABORATE WITH ARTISTS, AUDIENCES, AND COMMUNITIES TO CREATE JOYFUL, MEANINGFUL, AND TRANSCENDENT CULTURAL EXPERIENCES THAT DEFY BOUNDARIES, FUEL CURIOSITY, IGNITE THE SPIRIT, AND NOURISH THE SOUL.
Big Ears presents extraordinary performances and arts experiences to connect more than 40,000 locals and visitors of all ages throughout the Knoxville community each year.
Founded in 2009, the Big Ears Festival is the flagship event of our organization. It explores the influences that inspire and connect musicians and artists, crossing the boundaries of musical genres as well as artistic disciplines. Every spring, Big Ears presents nearly 200 concerts, talks, workshops, film screenings, residencies, and more in over a dozen venues across downtown Knoxville. With a program budget of $2.9 million and a local annual economic impact of $36.1 million, the Big Ears Festival is one of the highest-profile arts events in the Southeastern U.S., garnering regular national media coverage, hosting numerous world premiere performances, and helping to define the cultural character of the region for many across the country.
As a free-standing nonprofit with a dedicated staff and mission, Big Ears’ activities have grown beyond the festival to include expanded community engagement programming and cultural events beyond the confines of the festival. These programs enable us to better reach underserved groups and lower barriers to their participation in the arts.
The impact areas on which we focus our work are:
• Arts Presenting: We are committed to sustaining world-class cultural events in Knoxville that provide innovative, enriching, and transformative experiences for all, while maintaining a unique curatorial vision.
• Arts Access: We strive to ignite curiosity in the hearts of our community, lowering barriers to groundbreaking creative experiences that foster deep listening and community connection.
Big Ears receives substantial investment from donors and sponsors in the Knoxville community, as well as from private foundations, government agencies, and dedicated supporters across the country for whom the festival has become an annual pilgrimage. Explore our list of generous partners or join the ranks of our supporters.
BIG EARS BOARD OF DIRECTORS
John T. Winemiller, Chair
Katharine Pearson Criss, Vice-Chair
Richard Stair, Treasurer
Paul Parris, Secretary
Lauren Sampson Bowman
Anthony B. Creamer III
Dr. Sally C. Johnson
John Lynch Sanders