National Coalition forms to host Rural Generation Summit in Mississippi, May 22-24

Over the past four years, Next Generation: The Future of Arts and Culture Placemaking in Rural America has connected rural leaders to articulate the merit of our field, develop research that demonstrates our impacts, and align the policy community towards meaningful collaboration on community development initiatives. In recognition of significant shifts in public dialogue about rural America and rural Indian Country, this initiative has evolved to become RURAL GENERATION, a new national coalition of core partnerships including Art of the Rural, ArtPlace America, the Center for Rural Strategies & National Rural Assembly, First Peoples Fund, the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, the National Consortium of Creative Placemaking, the Rural Policy Research Institute, and Springboard for the Arts. The initiative is supported by a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant and ArtPlace.

The 2019 Rural Generation Summit is designed as a unique blend of immersive local engagement with our Delta host partners, regional development impact for the host communities, and a distinct rural thought leadership applied to expressing the rural dimensions of equity and social justice in the arts and culture landscape. To achieve this trifecta for the rural field, we are aligning research, practice, and policy towards the cohesion and innovation of the rural creative field.

The Summit presents a historic opportunity to share the practices, projects, institutions, and funding priorities that build equity for communities that have been historically disadvantaged with local folks, national practitioners, and state and federal policy makers. Beyond this work in 2019, we are committed with our partners to build a cross-sector, rural-focused collective impact intermediary to leverage our social, cultural and natural resources to address sustainability, regional cohesion, and rural quality of life.

Registration will become available in 2019. For more information about Rural Generation and the 2019 Summit, please visit, and follow along at #ruralgen. To sponsor the Rural Generation Summit, please contact 

The Summit is presented in collaboration with the Rural Generation Working Group and Executive Committee. 

Rural Generation Working Group

Alissa Benoist and Lakota Vogel (Four Bands Community Fund)

Pam Breaux (National Assembly of State Arts Agencies)

Anna Claussen (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

Jackie Clay (Coleman Center for the Arts)

John Davis (Bush Fellow)

Maria De Leon (National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures)

Susan Duplessis (South Carolina Arts Commission)

John Fenn (American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress)

Ruby Lopez Harper (Americans for the Arts)

Carol Harsh (Smithsonian Institution Travelling Exhibition Service)

Em Johnson (Blue Sky Center)

Teresa Kittridge (100 Rural Women)

Patrice Kunesh (Center for Indian Country Development)

Spencer Lucker (Delta Regional Authority)

Robert Martin (Clear Creek Creative)

Nikiko Masumoto (Masumoto Family Farms)

Jenna Moran (National Association of Counties)

Bob Reeder (Rural LISC)

Ashley Walden Davis and Mark W. Kidd (Alternate ROOTS)

Emily Wornell (Ball State University, RUPRI Center for State Policy)


Rural Generation Executive Committee

Michele Anderson and Carl Swanson (Springboard for the Arts)

Savannah Barrett and Matthew Fluharty (Art of the Rural)

Lyz Crane and Adam Erikson (ArtPlace America)

Chuck Fluharty (Rural Policy Research Institute)

Whitney Kimball Coe (Center for Rural Strategies)

Lori Pourier (First Peoples Fund)

Carlton Turner (Mississippi Center for Cultural Production)

Thomas Young (The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking)

Art of the Rural one of 60 National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Projects Selected Nationwide

Winona, MN– National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 60 awards totaling $4.1 million supporting projects across the nation through the NEA’s Our Town program.  Art of the Rural is one of the recommended organizations for a grant of $50,000 to support Next Generation, a partnership between Art of the Rural, The Rural Policy Research Institute, and a host of national networks to involve artists, organizations, and communities in meaningful dialogue and learning exchange to self-define contemporary rural culture and advancing public and private sector decision making.

“The variety and quality of these Our Town projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Art of the Rural, which is headquartered in Winona, Minnesota with a field office in Kentucky, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

“We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for their continued support and for their leadership in extending the knowledge and practice of creative placemaking across rural America,” said Matthew Fluharty, Executive Director of Art of the Rural. “We look forward to working with the Rural Policy Research Institute and our national, regional, and local partners to advance the impact of this work.”

Since 2015, Next Generation’s cross-sector networks have demonstrated reliable influence in rural policy and continue to be engaged in substantive exchange to promote innovative approaches to rural creative placemaking. In the coming year, Next Generation will host the second national Rural Creative Placemaking Summit, designed as a unique blend of immersive local engagement with our Delta host partners, regional development impact for the host communities, and a distinct rural thought leadership applied to expressing the rural dimensions of equity and social justice in the arts and culture landscape.

To learn more about Next Generation, visit or follow the initiative on facebook. For a complete list of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please tag the NEA @NEAarts and use the hashtag #NEASpring18.


Kentucky Food+Art+Health Dialogue

This March, the Kentucky Arts Council, Owensboro Health, the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, the Rural Policy Research Institute and Art of the Rural hosted a statewide conversation in Owensboro, KY about the dynamic intersection of food, art and health. Hosted at the RiverPark Center in downtown Owensboro and Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, the agenda included a series of brief presentations offering a broad understanding of the work happening at these intersections from all across Kentucky, with presenters addressing the impact of food + art + health on economic development, advancement of the arts, social cohesion, tourism, elder care, health, education and more. The sessions wrapped-up with a reception and jam session brought to you by the International Bluegrass Music Museum, the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra and the RiverPark Center, and a networking social at CYO Brewing. The second day of the convening included guided art walks, Q&A opportunities with the presenters and an informative session on how to find funding for innovative projects.

Read the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer article.


1:00 p.m.                   Welcome
Mayor Tom Watson
City of Owensboro

1:15 p.m.                   Arts + Health  

Valerie Horn
Appaltree Farmacy Project, Community Farm Alliance
Link to Powerpoint

Jeremy Crowder, RN
Manager, Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation, Owensboro Health
Link to Powerpoint

1:45 p.m.                   Local Impact: Owensboro Dance Theatre

Link to Video

2:00 p.m.                   Arts + Elder Care Communities  

Andee Rudloff
Community Artist, TimeSlips KY Project
Link to video
Link to Powerpoint

2:15 p.m.                   Arts + Food + Tourism 

Mark Brown
Kentucky Arts Council, USDA
Link to Powerpoint 

Glenn Baker
Owsley County Arts Council
Link to Powerpoint 

Amy Potts
Communications Coordinator, Kentucky Department of Tourism, Arts, and Heritage
Link to Powerpoint 

2:45 p.m.                   Break

3:00 p.m.                   Art + Workforce Development Panel

Jessica Evans & Doug Naselroad
Culture of Recovery Project
Link to Video
Link to Powerpoint

Brenda Richardson
Art Behind Bars
Link to Powerpoint

3:30 p.m.                   Art + Armed Forces

General Nolen Bivens
Former U.S. Army General and Advisor for Creative Forces
Link to Powerpoint
Link to Video

3:45 p.m.                   Arts + Social Cohesion  

Virginia Siegel & Nicole Musgrave
The Kentucky Folklife Program “Bosnia Project”
View Powerpoint

Carla Gover & Yani Vozos
Cornbread and Tortillas project
View Powerpoint

Michelle Howell
Bowling Green Community Farmers’ Market
Link to Powerpoint

4:30 p.m.                   Arts + Education Panel: Building a Culture 

Nick Brake, PhD
Owensboro Public Schools
Article about arts integration at Owensboro Independent Public Schools

Nick Covault
KY Governor’s School for the Arts
Link to Powerpoint

Sarah Campbell
Berea College Partners for Education
Link to Powerpoint

5:00 p.m.                   International Bluegrass Music Museum Reception & Jam Session
Brought to you by the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, the RiverPark Center and the International Bluegrass Music Museum

6:00 p.m.                   Dinner on your own

8:00 p.m. –               Networking Opportunity: Karaoke Night at CYO Brewery


Sandi Curd moderates a panel focused on funding creative cross-sector projects. From left to right, Sandi Curd, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation; General Nolen Bivens, Creative Forces; Tony Watkins, Community Foundation for Western Kentucky; Robi Fauser Fink, United States Department of Agriculture; Bob Reeder, Rural LISC, Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Chris Cathers, Kentucky Arts Council.

Owensboro Health Regional Hospital
1201 Pleasant Valley Road
Owensboro, KY 42303
Central Standard Time

8:30 a.m.                   Light Breakfast

9:00 a.m.                   Art Walks                                    

9:15 a.m.                    Welcome
Greg Strahan, President & CEO of Owensboro Health

9:20 a.m.                   Q&A with Conference Presenters

Moderators: Sandi Curd & Debbie Zuerner Johnson  

Panelists:                   Gen. Nolan Bivens      Brenda Richardson

Nick Brake                  Nick Covault               Virginia Siegel  

Sarah Campbell          Valerie Horn                Carla Gover

Michelle Howell           Andee Rudloff             Yani Vozos     

10:00 a.m.                Break

10:15 a.m.                Funding Food + Art + Health

General Bivens, Creative Forces
Tony Watkins, Community Foundation for Western Kentucky
Robi Fauser Fink, United States Department of Agriculture
Bob Reeder, Rural LISC, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Chris Cathers, Kentucky Arts Council

11:30 a.m.                Upcoming Opportunities
Savannah Barrett, Art of the Rural and RUPRI 

Link to Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange website
Link to Next Generation website

11:40 a.m.                Next Steps
Sandi Curd, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation

What will you do in your community as a result of this conversation?

This event developed as a result of the 2016 Next Generation Rural Creative Placemaking Kentucky Working Group, and is spearheaded by Sandi Curd (Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation), Debbie Zerner-Johnson and Erica Wade (Owensboro Health), Joe Berry (Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation), Chris Cathers and Todd Cremeans (Kentucky Arts Council), and Savannah Barrett (Art of the Rural/RUPRI).