Apr
11

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Join the Digital Exchange Conversation April 27

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Join community organizers from Minnesota, Missouri, and Tennessee for this Digital Exchange webinar focused on the power of stories to bring people together in community. You’ll hear from the organizer of a national festival, the founder of a regional museum, and a local writer and media artist about their experiences lifting up diverse narratives to contribute to their community’s sense of place. Cheryal Lee Hills joins the conversation as a regional development leader using storytelling as an intentional practice for community development.

Lauren K Carlson is a poet and media producer residing in Dawson, Minnesota. Her poems have recently appeared in or will appear in Blue Heron Review, Heron Tree, The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, The Windhover, and Fiolet&Wing: a fabulist anthology. She is the creator and producer of “Poems from the Field” a web series distributed by Pioneer Public Television which uses poetry to explore with richness and depth the creative and spiritual lives of rural Minnesotans. More at www.laurenkcarlson.com.

Faye Dant is the Executive Director of Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center in Hannibal, Missouri. A fifth-generation African American Hannibalian and descendant of Missouri slave, James Walker. She grew up here in Douglasville and attended local schools including segregated Douglass School, Hannibal High School, and Hannibal LaGrange College. Her life experiences in the era of segregation, integration, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement lead to the creation of Jim’s Journey. She received a B.A. from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She has worked for more than thirty years in Human Resources and is married to Hannibal native Joel Dant; together they have three adult children. Some of her board obligations include the Missouri Humanities Council, the Marion County Historical Society, the Grants Panel for the Missouri Folk Arts Council and the NEA, Our Town Grants Panel.

Cheryal Lee Hills is the Executive Director of the Region Five Development Commission (R5DC), A ffiliate 501c3 North Central Economic Development Association. With over 25 years of experience in community and economic development, Cheryal currently provides oversight of over three million dollars in project, levy and grant annual income. She oversees a high performing sta ff of six who deliver a range of professional planning and project management services. She covers a wide array of domains including economic/community development, business lending and transportation just to name a few. Cheryal serves on several local, state and national boards. Cheryal has the valuable ability to welcome and gather diverse strengths to meet collective goals. She states that on issues such as local foods, renewable energy, and broadband to the rural last mile, she is deeply committed to rural people. As she truly enjoys her job and considers work one of her hobbies. Outside of this domain, Cheryal has a very large garden the Minnesota woods from which she enjoys canning and drying different foods.

Kiran Singh Sirah is President of the International Storytelling Center, producers of the world acclaimed National Storytelling Festival, based in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Kiran has established a number of award-winning arts, cultural and human rights programs in the UK. After 9/11 he developed programs at National Museums Scotland, and created a number of peace and con flict resolution initiatives exploring issues of religious, ethnic, and sectarian con flicts in Scotland and Northern Ireland. He went on to lead the Helen Keller International Arts award, establishing disability arts part of Glasgow’s Creative UNESCO City of Music. In 2011 Kiran embarked on a Rotary Peace Fellowship, focusing on focusing on the folklore of “home”. Working across the arts, cultural and peacebuilding and the international development community he emphasizes his interest in “the power of human creativity, arts, storytelling and social justice, and the notion of a truly multicultural society.” In 2012, Kiran was invited to give a key note address at the RI- United Nations Day at the UN headquarters, entitled Telling Stories That Matter- A project that encourages the use of arts, culture and diverse storytelling within the international peace building community.

Roughly every three weeks, these Digital Exchanges offer an opportunity for folks to come together and engage with leaders working across the dynamic range of fi elds that compose the foundation of rural creative placemaking. Each of these one hour Digital Exchanges will feature 2-4 voices from across the country, sharing specif c themes, challenges, and opportunities we collectively encounter in this work.

Learn more at www.ruralgeneration.org/digital-exchange

Mar
15

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Statement on Proposed Funding Cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts

Art of the Rural strongly supports the continued funding of the National Endowment for the Arts — for its economic and cultural impact, and for the way it helps rural communities take advantage of local opportunities and collectively vision the future of their places.
The front porch of a cabin at Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, Kentucky; Photo: Savannah Barrett

Art of the Rural strongly supports the continued funding of the National Endowment for the Arts — for its economic and cultural impact, and for the way it helps rural communities take advantage of local opportunities and collectively vision the future of their places.

To take stock of the contributions of the NEA in this moment when its funding is in jeopardy, we might begin by celebrating the economic impact of the NEA’s investment in our communities and share the success of this work far beyond the arts and culture field. Without question, we can find ample and undeniable evidence of the Endowment’s ability to serve as a lightning rod for matching and amplifying investments on the local and regional level across all fifty states. The data exists and, indeed, it is already influencing community and economic development decisions across the country.

Similarly, it is hard to imagine our cultural landscape without the presence of the NEA, which conducts vital research, builds cross-sector partnerships with other governmental entities, supports individual artists, inspires creative placemaking, and celebrates vernacular culture through its Folk Arts program and its Heritage Fellowships. Yet, dwelling for a moment even on the impact of NEA’s support of folk arts opens up a crucial point of difference that may be left out of many defenses of the NEA: the rural context.

Rural America comprises roughly 75% of US land, and 15% of its people, yet only receives (optimistically) 6% of American philanthropy’s support each year. This inequity frames the inconsequential place rural communities hold in the priorities of so many of our nation’s foundations. In this absence of responsibility, the National Endowment for the Arts has provided the kind of leadership and program design that fairly funds rural projects and includes these voices in national conversations. Defunding the NEA would disadvantage the everyday life of rural Americans.

In its support of artists, culture bearers, and community-based projects, the NEA has provided a clear model for how we must address the confluence of economic and cultural challenges facing our rural regions. As expressed so frequently throughout the course of our NEA-funded Next Generation initiative with the Rural Policy Research Institute, rural places are facing three consistent challenges: maintaining vital economic opportunities, remaining exciting and inclusive places for the next generation of its citizens, and providing an environment that encourages civic and social participation across all parts of the community. The NEA not only understand this, but has been crucial in catalyzing partnerships with other governmental, private sector, and philanthropic entities towards those ends.

The transition after a national election should provide an opportunity to reassess the outcomes of our nation’s investments. We must not lose sight of the results of the economic and cultural investments the NEA has made in rural people and rural communities, and the ways in which these programs have transformed the potential for folks to imagine, and act upon, their future.

Feb
6

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AOTR and RUPRI launch Next Generation Digital Exchange Webinars

Digital Exchange Feb
Save the Date for the first Digital Exchange Webinar on February 15 at 12 PM EST

Reflections on the Rural Creative Placemaking Summit

The first Next Generation Digital Exchange Webinar takes place on Wednesday, February 15 from 12:00- 1:00 PM EST.

The webinar offers reflections from presenters at the Next Generation Rural Creative Placemaking Summit held at the University of Iowa in October, 2016, and includes perspectives from Matthew Glassman (MA), Nikiko Masumoto (CA), Bob Reeder (MD) and Ryan Taylor (ND).

Register here or learn more at www.ruralgeneration.org/digital-exchange. Registration is free of charge, but requires you to download Zoom.

Feb 15 DEW bios

About the Next Generation Digital Exchange Webinars

The Next Generation Digital Exchange Webinar series draws on the power of connection to bridge conversation across the regions, sectors, and place-based philosophies that make the work of creative placemaking so essential to the future of our rural places. Roughly every three weeks, these Digital Exchanges will offer an opportunity for folks to come together and engage with leaders working across the dynamic range of fields that compose the foundation of rural creative placemaking.

Each of these one hour Digital Exchanges will feature 2-4 voices from across the country, sharing specific themes, challenges, and opportunities we collectively encounter in this work. While some elements of this series will resemble a familiar webinar format, the inclusive and creative atmosphere of these gatherings will offer a space for new ideas and unexpected connections to emerge.

This Digital Exchange series is hosted by Art of the Rural and the Rural Policy Research Institute made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the McKnight Foundation. Digital Exchange is produced at the Outpost collaborative space in Winona, Minnesota, national headquarters of Art of the Rural.

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