Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange announces 2017 program!

The Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange (RUX) has convened more than 130 Kentuckians from 24 counties. The Kentucky RUX network aligns people working across the arts, agriculture, community health and small business to work together towards the transformation of Kentucky’s economies, communities and sense of self.

The Kentucky RUX network will showcase a new Kentucky community this year, the sixth to participate. The Kentucky RUX network welcomes the communities of Bowling Green and the surrounding region as a host community, and the Kentucky Folklife Program at Western Kentucky University as a regional partner. The Kentucky Folklife Program is housed in the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology at Western Kentucky University.

Photo credit Izzy Broomfield.

The mission of the Kentucky RUX is to grow relationships across divides to build a more collaborative and connected Commonwealth. Founded in 2014 by Art of the Rural and Appalshop, and supported by the Rural Policy Research Institute and several Kentucky businesses, the Kentucky RUX has collaborated with 52 distinct partners from every corner of the Commonwealth. Our 2016 cohort of 75 participants showcases the Commonwealth’s diversity: more than 75 percent of RUX leaders are under 40, and 25 percent are people of color. Of these, 67 people completed the rigorous program, at a rate of 90 percent.

Kentucky RUX programming is focused on people, places, and partnerships. In each weekend-long Community Intensive, participants enjoy a local experience of the host community, explore our common identity and culture, and contribute to place-based strategies to address our shared social and economic future.  These exchange labs and their resulting collaborations are central to achieving the RUX vision: a future in which Kentuckians value each other, create common ground, and understand our interdependence.

Members from across the state will gather in Lexington June 23-25, in Bowling Green July 28-30, and in Harlan County Sept. 29-Oct. 1 for the Kentucky RUX program’s fourth year.  Past host communities include Louisville (2014-15), Paducah (2015-16), and Whitesburg (2014-15).

Photo credit Sarah Schmitt.

Applications are available and are due by April 28, 2017. Applicants from South Central Kentucky and the Western Kentucky Coalfields will receive priority consideration. To learn more and apply, visit:

Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange Steering Committee Members: Alexia Ault – Higher Ground at Southeast Community and Technical College (Harlan), Ada Smith – Appalshop (Whitesburg), Savannah Barrett – Art of the Rural (Louisville), Shane Barton – UK Appalachian Center (Lexington), Ivy Brashear – MACED (Berea), Landee Bryant Greene – Maiden Alley Cinema (Paducah), Nick Covault – Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts (Louisville), Stefani Dahl – Norton Healthcare (Louisville), Mark Kidd – Handbarrow (Whitesburg), Josh May (Whitesburg), Cheyenne Mize – STRIVE (Louisville), Sarah Schmitt – Kentucky Arts Council (Frankfort), Gerry Seavo James – The Explore Kentucky Initiative (Frankfort), Ashley Smith – The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center (Lexington), Tanya Torp – Step By Step Lexington, Richard Young – Community Development Consultant (Lexington).

2017 Kentucky RUX Regional Host Partners: The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in Lexington, The Kentucky Folklife Program in Bowling Green, and Higher Ground at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan.

About Appalshop: Appalshop is a non-profit multi-disciplinary arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia producing original films, video, theater, music and spoken-word recordings, radio, photography, multimedia, and books. Their education and training programs support communities’ efforts to solve their own problems in a just and equitable way. Each year, Appalshop productions and services reach several million people nationally and internationally.

About Art of the Rural: Art of the Rural is a collaborative organization with a mission to help build the field of the rural arts and shape new narratives on rural culture and community. We work online and on the ground through interdisciplinary and cross-sector partnerships to advance engaged collaboration and policy that transcends imposed boundaries and articulates the shared reality of rural and urban America.

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