Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts!
2 Belshire Court
Johnson City, TN  37615
Contact: Belinda Kiener, founder/president

The Holidays are closer than you think…

If you’d like to make a donation to Bravissima! in honor of, or in memory of, someone, please let us know at We’ll send a that says, “A generous donation was made to Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts! in memory of/in honor of ___________ by Your Name, at Your Address.” We’ll write in the amount donated if you wish, or leave it off. Just let us know. This is a perfect holiday gift to let someone know you’re thinking of them, especially when they have everything they need. The amount, whether $5 or $500 or more, doesn’t matter. It’s truly the thought that counts! You might suggest this to friends to are struggling to find the perfect gift, as well. And, holidays or not, you can do this anytime of year, without the holiday card.

2024 Sponsorships

Besides My Fair Lady, February 12-13, we’re sponsoring a concert, a repertory play and an art exhibit:

The Unicorn’s Birthday, by Symphony of the Mountains, May 5, in Kingsport. This is a delightful interactive concert for families, and especially for special needs children. Narrated by Rick McVey, formerly of Barter Theatre, this is a gentle, fantasy and fun-filled symphony experience with terrific music, fun sounds and captivating on-stage activity. The concert will also play to schools in the Tri-Cities, Wise County in Pound, Virginia, and SW Virginia.

Peter Pan, by Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, date TBA, probably mid-summer, at the new Jackson Theatre in Jonesborough.

A regional glass art exhibit at Fischman Gallery in October, opening on First Friday in downtown Johnson City.

2025 Sponsorship

Guest bassist and composer Edgar Meyer, with Symphony of the Mountains at the Martin Center, date TBA. Hailed by the New Yorker as “the most remarkable virtuoso in the relatively un-chronicled history of his instrument,” Meyer won the McArthur Award in 2002, and has recorded and played with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell. This promises to be an amazing concert!

We have one smaller donation for either 2024 or 2025 that we want to keep under our hats until we can make an announcement. It was mentioned at each of our summer luncheons, so if you didn’t hear about it, you will in the coming months.

Upcoming Events

November 17, 2023, 6 pm, we’re gathering in the Bristol Club at Bristol Motor Speedway to enjoy some pre-holiday cheer while overlooking the Holiday Lights, which will be the first night they come on!

December 10, 2023, 3 pm at Barter Theatre! We’ll see Miracle on 34th Street, go to Martha Washington Inn for a buffet and beverages.

Previous Event

Earlier this year on April 21, 2023 we had a wonderful reception hosted by the Martin Center in appreciation of our Annie sponsorship and enjoyed three luncheons throughout the summer at Gourmet & Co.

Another Wonderful Broadway Musical in 2024!

My Fair Lady, is, according to Entertainment Weekly, “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time. It’s “thrilling, glorious and better than it ever was,” writes the New York Times, adding that, “Every so often a revival comes along that reminds you how indispensable great theatre can be.” Bravissima! is proud to sponsor this production, coming February 12-13, 2024, to the Martin Center. Not to worry…we have tickets for those of you who want to use your free tickets to see Jagged Little Pill, coming January 9-10, 2024. For our new members who didn’t vote for either of these, please let us know at bravissima111@gmail.comwhich one you want to attend!

2023 Sponsorships

In January, it was Annie, which got huge standing ovations at each performance. The young people from Langston attended one night, and according to Adam Dickson, supervisor, it was for them “transformative”! Just what we’d hoped! In May, we sponsored the Cattywampus Parade in conjunction with UMOJA at the Art Struck Festival in downtown Johnson City. The parade featured amazing, huge papier mache puppets, and the most popular seemed to be Dolly Parton! In August, we made the major contribution to Crowns at the McKinney Center, benefitting both UMOJA and the McKinney Center, who sent a thank-you note to Bravissima!, with the comment, “Thank you so much for making Crowns be the success that it was!” and “With your support, we were able to continue honoring the McKinney family legacy…” To a person, everyone loved this production of local actors and singers who were spectacular! We were also credited during Spring this year for Tipton Gallery’s Dulce y Pan exhibit, featuring Latino art. We were given credit for this because of the funding we gave last year for Y’all Don’t Hear Me: The Black Appalachian exhibit, which featured a visit by poet Nikki Giovani.

Pan Dulce y Yo Opening at Tipton Gallery

Cinco de Mayo, May 5, 2023, Johnson City, TN, Tipton Gallery and Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts! proudly hosted the cutting-edge and relevant mixed-media art exhibit, Pan Dulce y Yo of Latina artist, J. Leigh Garcia.

Pan Dulce y Yo depicted themes of the biracial and bicultural heritage of Latino Americans. Garcia’s art conveys the journey and struggles of Mexican immigrants in the United States. Themes of immigration, labor, cultural assimilation, and food are depicted from the perspective of Latinos.

Gallery-goers were inspired and moved by Garcia’s multi-layered art form expressed through printmaking, papermaking, and freestanding sculptures. Garcia’s profound message of migration, racial privilege, and oppression deeply resonated with art viewers.

During the exhibit, guest speaker, Angelica Ares, a member of Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts! spoke of her own Cuban family heritage and her parent's immigration journey to America. Bravissima! is passionate about helping to bring more diversity and inclusion to the region through art. This exhibit was sponsored by Bravissima! during the Corazon Latino Festival in Downtown Johnson City.

Garcia’s Pan Dulce y Yo exhibit gave art viewers an intimate experience while raising awareness of the ongoing struggles of Latino Americans from past to present. The exhibit was well-attended, impassionate, and thought-provoking.


Connect with Tipton Gallery on Facebook and


Photos and article by Gabriella Collins.

Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts! honored by ETSU's President Noland and Martin Center

What a wonderful night was had by all the women of Bravissima! April 21, 2023 at the Martin Center! A congratulatory dinner was held for the group on behalf of the Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts: thanking the group for its generous donations and hard work.

Bravissima! has been the driving force behind bringing Broadway to the Tri-Cities area with founder Belinda Kiener saying, “bringing Broadway shows to this region has long been a dream of mine and the women of Bravissima. We’re so pleased to have helped make this dream a reality for so many patrons of the arts here in East Tennessee.”

The group dined on heavy hors d'ouevres and were entertained by a world class pianist. The night was capped off by a speech from ETSU President Brian Noland when he thanked the group for its donations. President Noland remarked on the moment he knew all of the hard work had paid off, “Sitting opposite the balcony full of kids from the Langston Centre and seeing their smiling faces…there was no doubt in my mind that all that was done to bring Annie the Musical to our region was worth it. We are indebted to the women of Bravissima! for their tireless dedication to the arts.” He and Martin Center's Director, Jennifer Clements presented Belinda and the women of Bravissima! a signed playbill from the cast of Annie the Musical.

We can't wait to see what next year brings!


Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts! and ETSU Partnership Continues Strong

The August 20th Gala at ETSU’s Martin Center for the Arts was magical. President Brian Noland gave a special nod to Bravissima! for their involvement in bringing the first Broadway play to the Tri-Cities and were honored to be mentioned as the sponsors of the ETSU Chorale’s trip to Bratislava this year (where they brought home the gold!).

Belinda Kiener was asked on-stage to announce the first Broadway play to come to ETSU's Martin Center – Annie! We are beyond proud to be the sponsors of the very first Broadway play to come to the Tri-Cities! Annie will be at the Martin Center January 25 and 26. Bravissima! members are encouraged to email or call Belinda to find out about getting your seats reserved. If you are interested in purchasing tickets, please visit the ETSU Martin Center website.

Overview of Annie

Holding onto hope when times are tough can take an awful lot of determination, and sometimes, an awful lot of determination comes in a surprisingly small package. Little Orphan Annie has reminded generations of theatergoers that sunshine is always right around the corner, and now the best-loved musical of all time is set to return in a new production – just as you remember it and just when we need it most.

ANNIE, directed by Jenn Thompson, features the iconic book and score, written by Tony Award® winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. This celebration of family, optimism and the American spirit remains the ultimate cure for all the hard knocks life throws your way.

Recommended for ages 5 and older.
The listed age is a recommendation, but please use your own discretion when making a decision for your young theatergoer.

"One of the best family musicals ever penned!"
Chicago Tribune

"An incredibly rich and affecting story"
The Guardian

"Lovable, Charming and Gutsy"
The New York Times

Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts! hosts opening reception at Fischman Gallery in Downtown Johnson City

Bravissima! hosted a reception on May 13, 2022, for the grand opening of Fischman Gallery in downtown Johnson City. The Bravissima! Art Exhibit was the first for the new gallery, located at 133 Commerce Street, and is owned by board member Nancy Fischman. The exhibit included Bravissima! artists, Monique Carr, Coralie Tweed Morgan, Joy McGinnis, Fischman, and former member Jane Broderick, along with many pieces from Bravissima! President Belinda Kiener’s personal art collection. The exhibit also included work from studio artists at Atelier 133, which houses Fischman Gallery, 14 artist studios and a café/bakery.

A very special thanks to Bob Cantler, President and CEO of the Johnson City/Washington County Chamber of Commerce and his staff for supporting the Bravissima! Art Exhibit and the grand opening of the gallery at the ribbon cutting event.

Bravissima! would also like to thank ETSU students Yayha and Fatma Mhirssi for providing beautiful music; Fresh Market and One Stop Wine and Spirits for their generous donation of wine and food; Maren Close, owner/operator of Lazy Lady Baking Company for her mouth-watering desserts; Crystal Carter for photography; and to Bill Barker and Meghan Bishop for helping set up and serve.

Nearly 200 people attended, and more came to see the exhibit once the private reception opened to the public at 6:30 in the evening.

Bravissima! sponsors “Local Art During the Age of the 2020 Global Pandemic” exhibit at ETSU's Reece Museum

Johnson City, TN–ETSU’s Reece Museum hosted a reception April 1 for Bravissima! members, supporters of the museum and the 40 artists who participated in the “Local Art During the Age of the 2020 Global Pandemic” exhibit. The invitees enjoyed a sneak preview of the exhibit, which will run through September. All art was based on the title theme in various media. The exhibit will stay at the Reece archives after it is first shown this year.
Bravissima! members loved having the opportunity to meet and greet the artists, who expressed their appreciation to our members for having been a sponsor of this extraordinary array of art from artists who live or work in Tennessee’s First Congressional District. Our thanks to Rebecca Proffitt, director of Reece, and Spencer Brenner, exhibition coordinator, for hosting a lovely evening reception. Hats off, too, to Randy Sanders, former director, for seeing this project through. This exhibit represents history in the making, and Bravissima! is proud to be a sponsor.

Langston Centre Students Attend Dress Rehearsal at the New Martin Center

Langston Centre students attended a dress rehearsal of Men In Boats, an ETSU Theatre Department play scheduled to open November 18. The evening event was the result of a collaboration with Langston Centre, the ETSU Theatre Department, and Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts!

To buy tickets for this performance, visit

Bravissima! Awards ETSU Chorale $16,250 For 2022 Bratislava Trip

East Tennessee State University Chorale students got a surprise in the form of a $16,250 check presented to them November 3 by Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts! The multi-international award-winning group competed in Wales in 2019 and will compete again next summer in Bratislava, Slovakia. In 2019, the group won two first prizes and one second prize.


This year, Dr. Matthew Potterton, chair of ETSU’s Music Department, has scheduled performances in Johnson City many times over to raise the $65,000 needed to get the students to the competition. The check from Bravissima! gives them one-quarter of the funding. In addition, John and Bonnie Martin presented the group with a $2,000 check, matched by Belinda Kiener, founder and president of Bravissima!


“This competition is a life-changing experience for them,” Potterton said.


Before Bravissima! board members presented the check to the chorale, Kiener quoted St. Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”


“Our funding is to sponsor the Arts in our area. We want to bring the Arts here, and we want the world to experience the Arts endemic to our region. Thank you for taking the wonderful music of our region to the world, and for being such perfect representatives of all of us,” Kiener said.


Bravissima! is a non-profit whose mission is to “enhance access to the Arts in our beautiful Appalachian Highlands region.” Each woman in Bravissima! donates $1,000 every year to sponsor various performances productions, exhibits and programs. More about the organization can be found at The check to the ETSU chorale was presented at an event at The Gallery in downtown Johnson City for the women of Bravissima! and their spouses. The chorale members provided the evening’s entertainment.


To donate to ETSU’s Chorale, call ETSU’s Music Department at 423.449.4276 or write

Touring the Martin Center for the Arts & Dinner

On July 15th, 2021, Bravissima! was invited to tour the James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts at ETSU. We were hosted by the Director of University Events, Jennifer Clements and Director of Development, Mona Salyer. They joined us for a lovely dinner at Wellington’s after the tour. We would like to thank our gracious sponsors of this event; Dunham & Deitel Wealth Management, Cosmetic Laser Skin Care, and Johnson City Eye Clinic.

During dinner, Bravissima! announced its newest members; Judie Camak, Angelitti Bradley, and Margaret Davis. We were also honored to have a few guests in attendance; Edith Dowd, daughter of Anne Brading, and Leslie Salling, CEO of United Way of East TN Highlands.

One of the main topics of conversation was the importance of diversity in the arts. Bravissima! is committed to recruiting members from a diverse background into the organization. It is important because it enriches our ability to make decisions regarding funding for the Arts in our region.

“Art is a language that builds bridges between differences.” – local artist Ren Allen

Last, but not least, we celebrated 5 birthdays in July: Lynn Hellman-Ritter, Angelica Ares, Summer Moody, Barbara Deitel, and Linda Mooney. Maren Close, Lazy Lady Baking Company baked a magnificent cake for our July birthday gals, and we were serenaded with an opera version of Happy Birthday by the extremely talented Edith Dowd who is part of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Upcoming events:

  • Atelier 133 Art Gallery Grand Opening, TBA
  • End of year Event – November 3rd at The Gallery Event Facility above Southern Craft BBQ
  • Early 2022 – Reece Museum reception, TBA

Bravissima! will provide funding in 2022 for the following:

  • A Broadway play at the James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts, ETSU
  • A National Glass Art Exhibit at Atelier 133 Art Gallery

Sponsoring the arts through children’s programs at Langston Centre in Johnson City

Rising third to eighth graders enjoyed two free summer children’s camps that ran simultaneously July 5-9, 2021, at Langston Centre in Johnson City, Tenn. The camps were a result of $6,000 in funding by Bravissima!, which included money for much-needed media equipment. Classes included video, still photography, editing, post production, creative writing and theatre.

The funding also provides Langston with a third camp in November for older students who will receive further instruction in theatre, acting, set design and playwriting. Following the November camp, the young people will be treated to a theatre tour at the East Tennessee State University’s James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts. At the end of the tour, the theater department will host the youth for a dress rehearsal for their first play of the season.

Thanks to Adam Dickson and Bridgette Jennings for making the dollars for these camps stretch so far, and thanks to Karen Brewster, chair of ETSU’s theater department for making the tour and dress rehearsal a magical experience for the young ones who’ve learned so much this year!

Bravissima! is dedicated to bringing the Arts to young people in this area, as well as to people who might not otherwise be able to enjoy the Arts because of socio-economic and minority status or location in our beautiful Appalachian Highlands region. Because of the summer and fall camps at Langston, and the collaboration with ETSU’s Theatre Department, we are excited to see success on these fronts.

Saturday, April 17, 2021, Bravissima! members met in person for the first time in a year to enjoy a High Tea & Happy Hour. The event was held at Blackthorn at The Ridges in Jonesborough, TN. East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Strings faculty provided wonderful classical selections for background music on violin, viola and cello throughout the event. David Kovac, head of the ETSU Strings Department, gave a brief presentation during their break. Bravissima! President Belinda gave a toast to everyone, thanking them for their many contributions, and a humorous toast to naughty Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who had recently passed, noting that he’d always had to walk two steps behind his wife. She also gave an update on recent sponsorships and plans for the future and thanked the business sponsors who funded the event: Dunham & Deitel Wealth Management, Johnson City Eye Clinic, Cosmetic Laser Skin Care and Hunter, Smith & Davis Law Firm.

Attorney Billie Farthing, Bravissima’s vice president for legal counsel, gave an update on a recent meeting with representatives of ETSU’s new Martin Arts Center. She said that Bravissima! can expect to fund a Broadway play at the Center in 2022 and that meetings with the Martin Center have been positive and productive.

Signature drinks were served after the high tea. After a year’s hiatus because of the COVID pandemic, attendees expressed delight at finally being able to gather in person.

When you donate to Bravissima! you are helping fund the arts in our region in a significant way. Bravissima! is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and your donation is fully tax deductible. Bravissima! has already committed to local arts organizations more than $100,000. Here are some of the wonderful arts programs we have funded over the past few years. 

We funded the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra in 2018 for their Master Concert series: $33,000 

In 2020, “Passing the Torch,” a downtown Johnson City mural across from the old Ashe Street Courthouse celebrating the Centennial of passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gave women the right to vote, was created in part with our sponsorship: $8,000

In 2020 we sponsored ETSU Reece Museum’s “Local Art in the Age of the 2020 Global Pandemic,” a Museum Special Collection Initiative. Full exhibit will be shown at the museum January-June 2022, currently online at $6,000 

Oh! Opera! was the theme of a November 2, 2019, soiree hosted by Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts!  The event was held at Anne Brading’s lovely home in Johnson City. The women, with their spouses and guests, enjoyed opera skits and arias by East Tennessee State University opera students and faculty who stayed after the evening’s entertainment to mingle with guests. Musical selections ranged from funny to heart rending, each magnificent!

Bravissima! members make a $1,000 yearly commitment to sponsor the Arts. Last year, they sponsored two concerts for the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra. Next year, they’ll sponsor a Broadway play at the new ETSU James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts. The women meet each year at various events to network and invite new members. All events are sponsored by area businesses.

Oh! Opera! was sponsored by Dunham & Deitel Wealth Management and First Watch Café. The first event of 2020 will be a wine and cheese tasting at Atelier 133, a brand new art gallery and studios in downtown Johnson City at 133 Commerce Street. Personal art collections will be on display and a jazz trio will perform.

Contact Bravissima! regarding membership at