This year’s National Rural Assembly was unique because nearly one-third of the participants represented rural arts and culture practitioners, funders, and community leaders, hailing from a wide diversity of experiences (and zip codes). All agreed that rural arts and culture are essential to the health, wealth, and sustainability of our communities, and their sessions together focused on:
- Practicing inclusion
- Learning from one another
- Identifying common strengths and challenges
- Developing talking points to advance and strengthen rural creative placemaking
This year’s cohort grew from previous gatherings and discussions including:
- The first rural arts and culture gathering at Double Edge Theatre in Ashefield, MA in 2011
- Participants on the Rural Arts & Culture Facebook page
- The 2014 Art + Agriculture gathering in Greensboro, NC
Throughout the 2015 sessions, participants discussed why it is important to create strong arts and culture components within the Rural Assembly’s platforms and messaging:
- Arts and culture are foundational to who we are as rural people by showing who we are and how we are connected.
- Rural arts and culture are essential for comprehensive community development including community health, intergenerational exchanges and cultural transformation.
- Rural placemaking is a long-term commitment that requires sustainable investments and risk capital. Rural people are extremely innovative and can create their own metrics and time frames for funding.