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Tennessee's new license plate for art supporters is now for sale — a specialty plate that state officials say plays a crucial role in funding the arts.

The Tennessean reported in January that sales of specialty license plates account for most of the public funding for the arts in Tennessee, and that leaders with the Tennessee Arts Commission hope the new design can reverse an otherwise downward trend in arts funding.

Tennessee has raised more arts money through plate sales than any other state, bringing in more than $4.5 million each of the past four years. Last year, that money went toward 900 grants to agencies and artists in 85 counties.

The new plate will be celebrated by arts leaders and members of the Tennessee Legislative Arts Caucus at a brief event at noon today at Legislative Plaza.

The new plate becomes the fourth for the arts and the first new design in more than a decade.

Graphic designer Leslie Haines won a contest with her vision for the plate, which resembles a block print similar to traditional Hatch Show Print posters. The plate shows a yellow sun over a bright turquoise background and the word "ART."

A portion of sales from many other license plates also help the arts, but at a lower rate.

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