Thank you for supporting the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange Fall Fair!

Thank you for your efforts to make the first annual Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange Fall Fair an amazing success! In one evening, nearly 200 people came out to La La Land Studios in Louisville to raise more than $7,000 for the 2017 Exchange! Kentucky individuals and businesses supported the RUX with another $ 13,000 in contributions.


From the entire Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange community, we are so grateful to you for making our work possible.

We would especially like to thank:

We’re so grateful for your support.



About the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

More than 130 Kentuckians from 24 counties have been collaborating for Kentucky’s future. Since 2014, the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange has brought people together to integrate the arts, agriculture, health and small business in partnership strategies to build new models, share resources, and improve quality of life for Kentuckians. Each summer, the RUX is hosted in three regions of the state and is designed to help participants understand and value the culture, landscape, context, and people of each place.

The RUX is a partnership of The Art Of The Rural & Appalshop, supported by the Rural Policy Research Institute and has partnered with 52 organizations around the Commonwealth. RUX has been hosted in Whitesburg, Louisville, Paducah, Harlan, and Lexington so far, bringing dozens of people to these regions for the first time. From an Eastern Kentucky hotel development to integrated learning across our community college system, a dozen collaborations have developed. To learn more, visit:

Announcing the Launch of the Next Generation Digital Learning Commons

next gen front page

The Next Generation home page, featuring an image courtesy of The Coleman Center for the Arts

Today, Art of the Rural (AOTR) and the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) announce the launch of a new Digital Learning Commons ( A platform for storytelling, research, and best practices, the Commons fosters an inclusive space for deeper collaboration and learning exchange, to assert the essential role of arts and cultural organizations in rural economic and community development. In doing so, the Learning Commons addresses two of the major challenges facing rural arts practitioners – geographic distance and access to information and networks – and establishes a digital intermediary through which these partnerships can develop.

Next Generation: The Future of Arts & Culture Placemaking in Rural America engages artists, organizations, and communities across the public, philanthropic and private sector to advance collaboration, share innovative strategies and research, and elevate emerging leaders in the field. This initiative is designed and facilitated in concert with a wide range of regional and national partners and supported by The University of Iowa and The National Endowment for the Arts.

“Next Generation emerged from conversations between The Rural Policy Research Institute and Art of the Rural,” stated Matthew Fluharty, Executive Director of Art of the Rural, “as we recognized that the missions, collaborative partnerships, and credibility with which each operated in their respective spaces were critical to those of the other, if both were to fully achieve their mission. This initiative is designed to catalyze transformational change in public, private, and philanthropic commitments to rural America.”

“From a rural context, we have much to learn from the evolving creative placemaking conversation,” Chuck Fluharty, President of the Rural Policy Research Institute, indicated. “However, the critical interchange between arts and culture, and rural development and public policy beyond the arts has yet to be fully articulated. Furthermore, the cross-sectoral synapses this enterprise is connecting in urban locales must become expressed beyond our cities. The future of our rural places, and the next generation of its citizens, depend on the kinds of innovation and collective impact fostered through such collaborations.”


Next Generation operates through three interlinked activities: Regional Networks that spark exchange, collaboration, and dissemination of best practices; a Digital Learning Commons that shares this knowledge and contributes further perspectives from across the rural arts and culture field; and Next Generation Convenings, including a national Rural Creative Placemaking Summit, to be held at the University of Iowa, October 12-14, 2016, that will merge the activities of the Networks and Commons and expand the rural placemaking network.

To learn more, visit

The Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange is featured in The Daily Yonder

Last week, the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange program was featured in The Daily Yonder, a multi-media source of news, commentary, research, and features published by the Center for Rural Strategies, a non-profit media organization based in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Yonder’s Shawn Poynter reached out to Rural-Urban Exchange organizers Savannah Barrett (Art of the Rural) and Josh May (Appalshop) to learn more about how the partnership between two Kentucky-based arts organizers has brought together folks from across the state to break down regional borders.

To read the article, visit:


About the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange:

Launched by partner organizations Art of the Rural & Appalshop, the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange is inspiring statewide collaboration between arts, agriculture, and small business as driving forces in economic development. The Exchange is a new approach to creative placemaking that builds a statewide constellation network and integrates key sectors in partnership strategies that address our shared social and economic future.

In the past two years, the Rural-Urban Exchange network has assembled seventy five next generation leaders from every corner of the Commonwealth to connect network, build collective impact models, and develop systems for resource sharing within local communities and across regions of Kentucky. With new partners in 2015 including the Kentucky Arts Council and Maiden Alley Cinema, the Exchange connected leaders from the coalfields of Appalachia to the cities of Louisville, Lexington, and Covington, to the river towns of southwestern Kentucky.

We have activated network members in 16 counties in Kentucky, brought together over 20 locally-owned businesses to discuss KY’s shared economic future, facilitated over a dozen statewide collaborations in sectors ranging from small business, to community development, visual arts & agriculture. These networks are committed to advancing projects that not only provide significant economic impact, but cultivate place-based development that improves quality of life for Kentuckians.

RUX at Americana in Louisville. Art making Mapping RuralUrban Connections. Photo by Aron Conaway
Rural-Urban Exchange members map their experiences in the state of Kentucky at the Americana Community Center in Louisville, 2015.
Photo Credit: Aron Conaway

In 2016, the Rural-Urban Exchange will gather in Lexington, Paducah, and Harlan County. Applications for the program will become available in March, 2016. Together, we are creating opportunities for Kentuckians to cultivate relationships across divides in order to build a more unified and equitable Commonwealth for all. To learn more about the project, visit or follow us on Facebook: