Front porch chairs at the Hindman Settlement School.

Here at Art of the Rural, we cultivate what we call an open cycle — an attention to how digital material and on-the-ground relationships can work together to tell the evolving elements of a story, a people, and a place. Our residencies across the country aim to build collaborative relationships with organizations and the communities that sustain them.

During these residencies we have a chance to immerse ourselves in the work of our partner organization and to get a sense of the context unique to their part of the world. We value how a patchwork of voices come together to create the groundswell of energy across a region’s creative and cultural landscape. We enter these collaborations ready to listen, to foster reciprocal exchange and mutuality, but also ready to talk with middle school students at a barbecue, help a rancher fix an irrigation pump, or join a few dozen new friends in dancing all night to soul music. We take great joy from learning about the larger patchwork of a community.

Art of the Rural Program Director Savannah Barrett in residency with Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

Art of the Rural Program Director Savannah Barrett in residency with Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky

We join our partner organization’s community for a short period of time, usually ranging from a few days up to a week. While each residency is collaboratively designed to address specific goals and exchanges, each Art of the Rural residency works from a set of shared imperatives:

  • Engage with the local community and get to know the cultural environment
  • Serve as a mirror: respond, make connections, and offer an informed, outside perspective   
  • Give something back: a broadcasted conversation or workshop, participation in the organization’s strategy for national engagement, collaboration on a community event
  • Envision an expanded partnership strategy
  • Make the work visible: through a culminating article about the host organization’s work and their community and through online conversations in concert with colleagues across the country

Year of the Rural Arts 2014 Residencies include:

Art of the Rural Director Matthew Fluharty in residency with the Coleman Center for the Arts in York, Alabama.