NASAA Notes: April 2019

April 3, 2019

Rural Resurgence through the Arts

60 million people make their homes—and make their livings—in rural America. All too often, the mainstream media tells stories that stereotype what these regions lack: infrastructure, economic opportunities and access to high-quality health care or education. While it’s true that many rural communities face daunting challenges, it’s time for a more complete story to be told: a story of rural resilience, ingenuity, prosperity and abundance. The arts and culture lie at the heart of that equation!

Spreading the Word

Recent Releases
National Governors Association: Rural Prosperity through the Arts & Creative Sector
Governing: The Growing Importance of the Arts to Rural America
Medium: The Creative Sector: A Proven Economic Catalyst for Rural America
NASAA: State Arts Agencies Advancing Equity: Rural Equity

For decades, state arts agencies have known that the arts are a catalytic ingredient to rural well-being, and you have devoted significant grant funds and technical assistance services toward this goal. That’s not new. What is new is that your work is gaining fresh momentum and heightened visibility as a powerful policy strategy—one that uses the agility and authenticity of the arts to create jobs, spark business growth, retain young talent and pass on a great quality of life to future generations. NASAA uses our national influence to elevate that message.

For example, the National Governors Association (NGA), through a collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts and NASAA, recently released Rural Prosperity through the Arts & Creative Sector: An Action Guide for Governors and States. As a research synthesis and policy roadmap, this report issues an unequivocal call to include the arts in state economic policies. It encourages a future in which “state economic development plans and comprehensive community plans are not considered complete if they do not include an arts component.” NASAA is proud to be part of this project. I’m thrilled by the stories you’re sharing with me about using the action guide to initiate conversations with state policy leaders and prospective partners, and I’m gratified to see it gaining traction with national and local media outlets.

While our first audience for this work was state policymakers, we’re making sure that rural issues are included in NASAA’s federal policy portfolio, too. On the morning of May 2, NASAA will be convening a Capitol Hill briefing to promote the arts as a driver of rural prosperity. We’ll engage members of the House and Senate in person at the Capitol, and colleagues from all across the nation are invited to tune into the live video broadcast from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. Eastern time. Follow NASAA’s Facebook page for more event details, coming soon.

The Power of Partnerships

In addition to our work with the NGA, NASAA collaborates with many other partners to pool our ideas and influence on behalf of a creative future for rural America:

  • NASAA routinely exchanges research and policy strategies with colleagues at the Rural Policy Research Institute. In addition to its other rural leadership roles, RUPRI is pioneering a Rural Cultural Wealth Lab to explore the intersection of rural arts and culture, entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • I’m honored to cochair the steering committee for The Art of Community: Rural SC, an initiative of the South Carolina Arts Commission. Their citizen-driven cohorts from six rural counties focus on addressing local issues like growing businesses, community vitality, health care, education, public safety and housing—through the arts.
  • NASAA serves as an advisor for the upcoming 2019 Rural Generation Summit, to be convened in Jackson, Mississippi, May 22-24. Summit participants will help shape strategies that promote cultural equity and build creative wealth for rural regions.

In concert with your efforts at the state level, it’s NASAA’s hope that we can empower rural and tribal communities, help them all to thrive, and make sure their authentic stories get told. Weigh in at #ruralarts to share your own experiences of America’s rural resurgence!

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Announcements and Resources

Legislative Update

Research on Demand

More Notes from NASAA

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