Save Watkins Legal Fund


Save Watkins needs your support, please donate.

There is one last chance to Save Watkins, and it rests on a lawsuit that we have filed against the forces that are trying to eliminate Watkins College of Art. The law is on our side. But time, and big money, are on their side.

As you may know, following the Watkins-Belmont "merger" announcement, students protested and declared a vote of no confidence against President Kline, alumni initiated an online petition against the deal garnering over 5,500 signatures, and faculty submitted another vote of no confidence. Save Watkins quickly formed as an initiative committed to exploring alternatives for Watkins to remain an independent institution, open and accessible for all in accordance with its founder, Samuel Watkins.

Save Watkins has sent countless requests to the Watkins Board to pause the deal and work together on a financially sustainable solution that maintains Watkins’ independence. The board has ignored every request despite national reports and local legislative support questioning the validity of the deal. We firmly believe that the Watkins-Belmont deal is legally flawed and not in the public interest. 

After much research and preparation by our lawyers, we had our first court hearing against the Watkins Board. We didn’t get what we wanted, but we didn’t get knocked out, either. It’s a fight that we believe we can win…but only if we can raise a minimum of $15,000 to continue. Funds raised through this campaign will allow Save Watkins to continue legal representation by local attorneys Jonathon Fagan and Kevin Teets who have generously donated hundreds of hours in legal services already.  

What will the money be used for? 
- Filing fees and cost of process servers
- Research costs including labor and duplicating fees
- Attorney labor costs
- Public communication costs

Any donation surplus beyond Save Watkins’ legal costs will be allocated to a scholarship fund for current Watkins students.

How will we win?
The Watkins Board claims that Watkins is a private entity. We believe we can prove it is not. If Watkins is deemed private, they can conduct the deal. If judged public, they cannot…at least not without a proper, transparent, public process and a vote by the State Legislature.

In Summary
The Watkins-Belmont deal forces two misaligned entities - a public, independent art college with a private, religious institution. It also proposes to give away Watkins’ public trust to Belmont University without legislative oversight. We hoped that the Watkins Commissioners and Board of Trustees would take pause and listen to the community directly impacted by this flawed deal. Unfortunately, they refuse. Fighting them in court is our only remaining option. Please join us in our continued efforts to Save Watkins. 

We are incredibly grateful to our Save Watkins supporters and donors. Learn more about our initiative at

Watkins College of Art is the only independent and accredited art school in the state of Tennessee, with a mission of fostering an environment of free and open inquiry for creative voices in Nashville and beyond. 

The principal goal of our founder, Samuel Watkins was to make premier education accessible to all in order to "acquire information on such subjects as will be beneficial for the business of life." For 135 years now, the school's primary directive has been to serve Nashville by educating its citizens in that 'business of life.'

Since the early 1990s, the institution has focused on the visual arts with the belief that no other academic discipline can distill the voices of the people more powerfully than one devoted to free, creative expression.

Students of Watkins use the knowledge, confidence, and skills they acquire at the school to become effective and proficient in the business of their own lives as artists and professionals. So many of our graduates leave with a deep commitment to artistic freedom and civic engagement, and through these values, they enrich the lives of others and their communities, bringing meaningful change to the world around them.
  • Anonymous 
    • $10 
    • 17 mos
  • Carey Rogers 
    • $25 
    • 18 mos
  • Mary Ellen Lothamer  
    • $50 
    • 19 mos
  • Beth Reitmeyer 
    • $25 
    • 19 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 19 mos
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Fundraising team (3)

Save Watkins 
Nashville, TN
Mark Schlicher