Join rural practitioners and leaders across the Southeast for 3 DAYS OF DIALOGUE, WORKSHOPS + EXPLORATION of how partnerships between the creative arts and agriculture are producing innovative strategies for economic development and well-being in rural communities.



Art-Force and the National Rural Assembly are hosting a convening of rural practitioners and leaders, artisans and artists, entrepreneurs and philanthropists, policy makers and nonprofit organizations for three days of dialogue, workshops, and exploration of how partnerships between the creative arts and agriculture can produce innovative strategies for economic redevelopment and well-being in rural and economically distressed communities.

The conference responds to the need for creative solutions to distressed economies whether in small rural towns, impoverished neighborhoods, or communities without resources and infrastructure.



704 Green Valley Road
Greensboro NC 27408

* Mention the Cross-Currents Conference and receive the Group Rate
* Booking Code: 10S99E

Greensboro, NC is served by 2 airports:

1. Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
(Approximately 70 minutes by Car to Hotel.)

2. Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO)
(Approximately 10 minutes by Car to Hotel.
Proximity Hotel provides complimentary shuttle service with advance reservation.)


Rural leaders, philanthropists, policy makers, creative thinkers, and entrepreneurs are realizing the transformative and sustainable power of artists-artisans-designers in facilitating healthier and inclusive futures for rural communities.

From growing methods to delivery systems, and from repurposed buildings to networks of producers, rural communities are at the forefront of demonstrating innovation throughout our economic food chain. Artists and artisans serve multiple functions in rural communities, as purveyors of culture, as authentic historians of craft and tradition, and increasingly as effective, innovators integral to successful revitalization and economic development strategies. What today may be considered fine art and high craft were always fundamental skills for self-sufficiency in rural America.

Nowhere is this history more evident than in North Carolina, where such ingenuity launched the Penland School of Crafts, Black Mountain College, and the careers of thousands of individuals and hundreds of small businesses that made small towns strong with their eyes and hands.



Cross-Currents will:

  1. Highlight successful models of the arts as connector, developer, facilitator, and economic generator.
  2. Build a compelling case for more creative and leading edge rural revitalization strategies.
  3. Offer examples of how to build collaboration, capacity, and value among food advocates, agricultural producers, artists and designers, planners, and community leaders.

Speakers and stories will unite solutions to pressing needs, forge new directions for local and regional economic and social well-being, and demonstrate how to nurture and support entrepreneurs and creatives. Participating practitioners will learn how to create opportunities for collaborative work across diverse sectors to realign community assets into new tangible demonstrations of commerce and place; contribute to a broader narrative about the role rural America plays nationally; increase their knowledge about the arts in strengthening the econimic health of communities; and, explore and refine models of collaboration among artists/arts organizations, entrepreneurs, agencies, and public and private sectors.



Artists-artisans-designers, rural leaders and advocates, elected and agency representatives, CSAs and CDCs, food producers and distributors, policy researchers and scholars, entrepreneurs and small business owners who seek creative approaches to ensuring greater quality of life within their communities.



Cross-Currents : Art + Agriculture Powering Rural Economies is organized around six principal themes that will lead to catalytic ideas, new policies, and expose participants to the potential of creative collaborations.

(When you enroll, please select a maximum of THREE categories that best describe your expertise or represents an area that you would like to learn more about.)


Artisan + Agricultural Entrepreneurs

What promising practices exist to build the entrepreneurial skills of artists and farmers? How are artists being connected to manufacturing opportunities? (ie: mentoring and apprentice programs, artists in residence in culinary arts programs, agripreneur training, rapid prototyping and innovative industrial design)

Creative Infrastructure

What physical, organizational, and social infrastructure can more effectively support the creative and ag sectors? What unique models exist across rural and urban America that might inform how we move forward? (ie: repurposing Main Street buildings, developing community alliances, organizing a food hub)

Rural Ingenuity + Creativity

What models exist for identifying rural cultural and agricultural assets and building on those assets to create viable economic opportunities?

Getting to Scale

How can local food entrepreneurs and local artisans better engage with demand to grow opportunities?(ie: unique food distribution models; niche value-added agriculture; arts incubators and aggregators; food processing, packaging, and distribution; fabrication; etc.)

Your Story

How do you make the case for the impact that arts and agriculture have on rural places? How can you attract investors to move your work forward?


How are local, state, and federal resources being used to support arts and agriculture? What models exist for effective, supportive policy?



Cross-Currents offers facilitated workshops, in-depth discussions and area site visits prior to the Opening Reception. Curious about a topic? Want to meet colleagues? Have a love of adventure? Please sign up when you register as each program will be limited to 20 participants.


Wednesday 3 September 2014
Workshops from 12:30pm – 4:30pm
$50 per session; sessions run concurrently