May 1, 2023
Texas and South Carolina: Enriching Rural Communities
Access to the arts is essential for creating vibrant and engaged communities in our nation’s rural areas and small towns. In addition to providing cultural enrichment, arts activities can also offer economic benefits for the communities hosting them. By drawing visitors, these events can help boost local businesses and support the local economy. However, access to arts opportunities in underserved rural communities can often be limited. The following examples from Texas and South Carolina highlight programs that promote arts engagement in rural communities.
Texas: Touring Roster Artist Rural Tours
The Texas Touring Arts Program is an initiative designed by the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) to ensure access to arts programming for all Texans. The program maintains a roster of artists who are engaged to perform at various venues throughout the state. The Rural Tours component of the program focuses specifically on providing access to live performances for residents in rural communities. These tours bring artists to venues such as schools, community centers and libraries in smaller towns and cities that may not have the resources to bring in performers on their own. TCA has selected eight Texas Touring Roster artists and groups to each provide six free performances in assigned rural counties between March 1 and August 31. These tours often serve youth summer reading programs in libraries. The artist fees for their performances are paid directly by TCA. This service from TCA facilitates access to the arts for rural communities who may lack local arts organizations or the capacity to apply for a grant or raise matching funds. By curating the roster artists and processing artist payments, TCA is helping the performances reach communities who may otherwise not have had the ability to tap into state funds.
The Touring Roster Artist Rural Tours spring 2023 calendar includes multimedia performances with interactive installations and hands-on workshops by contemporary dance ensemble ARCOS, storytelling performances for children; nature-driven workshop for teens by poet Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, lecture-dance demonstrations by Folklórico and Flamenco dance group Guadalupe Dance Company and performances for schoolchildren by the Texas Shakespeare Festival. To learn more about the initiative, contact the Texas Commission on the Arts Director of Artist Services & Communications Anina Moore.
South Carolina: Rural Libraries Public Engagement Grants
The Rural Libraries Public Engagement Grants program by the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is a noteworthy opportunity for rural libraries in South Carolina to engage their communities through the arts. Libraries are often hubs for civic life in small communities. However, libraries often are challenged to provide programming due to limited funding and staff resources, which can reduce access to the arts for the local communities. These grants provide up to $2,500 to public libraries to collaborate with artists or arts organizations to design and implement programs and activities that encourage their communities to engage with the arts.
Eligible libraries are those serving small communities with a service area population of 25,000 or less, and a rural community is defined as one that is five or more miles from an urbanized area. The grant can be used to fund public engagement activities involving various art forms such as dance, music, theatre, visual arts, literature, folk or traditional arts for festivals, exhibitions, workshops, residencies, etc. Funds can also be used to hire professional artists such as those listed on SCAC’s Arts Directory and Teaching Artist Roster. For information, contact South Carolina Arts Commission Arts Industry Director La Ruchala Murphy.
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