Year of the Rural Arts

By Imagining America | January 21, 2014

Imagining America is proud to be a founding partner of the Year of the Rural Arts.

THE YEAR OF THE RURAL ARTS is a biennial program of events, conversations, and online features celebrating the diverse, vital ways in which rural arts and culture contribute to American life. This inaugural effort will connect citizens, artists, scholars, designers, and entrepreneurs and meet with audiences on the grounds of universities, museums and galleries, cultural organizations, and across rural and urban communities.

The Year is coordinated by Art of the Rural and organized by a collective of individuals, organizations, and communities from rural and urban locales across the nation. Art of the Rural fosters an open source philosophy of sharing resources and ideas, and it values exchange across regions, cultures, and disciplines.

The inaugural Year is a collaborative, grassroots effort designed to build steam over the course of 2014. To present a more equitable representation and a more comprehensive narrative of rural arts in culture, all online features will be freely shared across websites and social media.

To establish a foundation for future work, we are motivated by two goals:

  • Build an inclusive and engaged rural arts and culture network: During the Year of the Rural Arts 2014, we seek to expand participation in the national rural arts conversation by identifying rural arts and culture stakeholders and documenting their presence on the Atlas of Rural Arts and Culture digital project. Together, with this online resource as a road map, we can build regional face-to-face relationships that contribute resources and support to our local places and also help establish a vibrant national network.
  • Expand artistic, cultural, and historical understanding: We have yet to encounter a connective vision of American rural experience. The inaugural Year will begin the work of presenting these narratives and critical perspectives through partnerships with universities, academic and cultural organizations, and communities across rural and urban America. In collaboration with the M12 art collective, we will offer Open Action Workshops across the country, seeking to meet new friends and colleagues and learn what questions and insights are at stake in this conversation.

Defining the Rural: We believe that popular conceptions of “rural” often lack nuance. While the term has a demographic meaning, it is also a category of cultural identity: rural people have moved to large metropolitan areas, and many urban folks have physical or philosophical connections to the country. We seek to celebrate rural places while also including perspectives along the rural-urban continuum.

Five Ways We Can Collaborate

  • Events, conversations, and courses conducted in collaboration with multiple departments on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis and within the region – accessible online to a national audience.
  • Field-building and documentation of the rural arts and culture landscape through the online Atlas of Rural Arts and Culture. This digital resource is a gateway to the creation of new, on-the-ground relationships across regions and disciplines.
  • The Year of the Rural Arts national calendar of events created in collaboration with pre-existing activities across the landscape of the American rural arts field, and visualized as a project within the Atlas of Rural Arts and Culture.
  • Open Action Workshop discussions hosted by partnering universities and organizations. Designed by the M12 Collective, the Open Action Workshop is an informal and unstandardized learning network that actively creates environments where boundaries between students, teachers, and institutions are consciously blurred.
  • A series of featured Year of the Rural Arts projects, interviews, and exhibits hosted on the Art of the Rural site and freely shared with all collaborators.

Visit Art of the Rural for more information on what’s coming up in 2014 and to collaborate and support the work.