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).

Reflections on #kyrux2017: Bowling Green

By Nicole Musgrave

This year I’ve had the joy of representing the Kentucky Folklife Program as the regional host coordinator for the 2017 Bowling Green Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange community intensive.  In this role I planned a variety of experiences with people and places around South Central Kentucky that represented the region’s history, culture, economy, and landscape.  It was fun to have the opportunity to host RUX members in Bowling Green and to share the things I find exciting about living in South Central Kentucky.

The experiences that I chose for the weekend reflected the stories about the region that I felt were important to highlight.

One thing I knew I wanted to showcase was Bowling Green’s immigrant and refugee communities.  Bowling Green is a refugee resettlement city, a designation which has helped enrich the city’s cultural and ethnic diversity.  As the graduate assistant at the Kentucky Folklife Program (KFP), I had strong connections to Bowling Green’s Bosnian community.  For the past two years, KFP has been working on the Bowling Green Bosnia Oral History Project,learning about the traditions that are important to members of this community, like Bosnian coffee.  We planned a Bosnian coffee demonstration, hosted by Sanida Palavra and Dzenana Kadric at the Bosnian Islamic Center of Bowling Green to learn about the significance of coffee in Bosnian culture.  Through their demonstration, we learned how coffee expresses the importance of hospitality and slowing down to enjoy the simple pleasures of life (or čejfas one would say in Bosnian).

In talking with RUX co-founder Savannah Barrett about the vision for the Bowling Green community intensive, she noted how she always conceived of Bowling Green as a rural city — a place with many of the amenities of urban life, and a strong connection to rural culture and economies.  With this is mind, I wanted to show the way in which Bowing Green interacts with the rural areas that surround the city.  On Saturday evening we went to Need More Acres Farm in Scottsville, KY where we were hosted by Michelle Howell.  Howell shared about her work connecting people in Bowling Green with fresh, Kentucky-grown produce.  After taking a tour of her farm and getting a sense of how Howell’s work is a back-and-forth between rural and urban, we sat down to a farm fresh meal and some live music by Franklin, KY’s Dead Broke Barons.

I also planned for the group to spend Sunday in Horse Cave, KY about 40 miles northeast of Bowling Green.  I loved the thought of bringing RUX members to Horse Cave because the city is really emblematic of the landscape of the region.  South Central Kentucky is known as “Cave Country,” with a karst landscape defined by limestone, sinkholes, underground rivers, and caves.  Horse Cave is unique because there is a cave right in the middle of their downtown.  In fact, the city was built around the cave Hidden River Cave.  We toured the area above and below ground, hearing cultural, historical, and ecological stories about the community.

While serving as the Bowling Green regional host coordinator was an opportunity for me to connect RUX members with South Central Kentucky’s diversity, it also ended up being an opportunity for me to connect more deeply with my community.  It’s easy to take the place where you live for granted, to put off going to the places you’ve yet to visit, to put off talking to the people you’ve yet to strike up a conversation with.  This opportunity was the push I needed to take those leaps, and as a result I feel a much greater sense of rootedness in this place.

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