Jason Hardy

Jason Hardy

Knoxville Opera

General Director & CEO

Hometown: Tallahassee, FL

What is your vision for Knoxville 10 years from now?

We officially adopt the moniker ‘Knoxville: City of Culture.’ Our city will be recognized as a premier cultural destination because creative and civic-minded people live/work/play here, and our cultural assets (art, music, theater, festivals, public spaces, parks/trails, etc.) are appealing and accessible.

What is Knoxville’s Best Kept Secret?

People are kind and gracious, we love our dogs, and Mead’s Quarry.

What would you do to strengthen Knoxville?

A new performing arts center would offer desperately-needed rehearsal space, performance venues, and offices. It could be home to many arts, culture, and community nonprofits that will be displaced by the massive investment in commercial and residential development our city is experiencing.

What is your favorite Knoxville memory?

Visiting Knoxville with my family for the job interview and ultimately getting the opportunity to make this home.

What is your favorite book or what book is currently on your nightstand?

Finding me (Viola Davis) and The Universal Christ (Richard Rohr)

What is the best advice you have received from a mentor, and who was that mentor?

My mentor and teacher, renowned bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk, in his perfect British accent: “Just SING, dammit!” He was reminding me that I was well-prepared for a big performance, and his advice was a reminder not to get in my own way by overthinking every minor detail.

What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?

Spend a little LESS time in the library. Building relationships and having fun is important, too. I would also suggest investing a little money into a new online book retailer called Amazon.com.

Jason Hardy