From the coalfields of Appalachia to the lumber mills of the Cascades, rural people across the nation share a common desire to see the places where they live grow and prosper as livable, energetic communities. Many small communities in rural America have witnessed dwindling philanthropic investment in the twenty-first century. Although rural communities, labor, and expertise remain vital to health of our nation, reports of philanthropic investment in small communities average between 1-5%. As Rick Cohen referenced in the Non Profit Quarterly earlier this year, “Many rural nonprofits have probably given up on seeing philanthropy double its rural grant making in five years, as per the challenge issued by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) to the Council on Foundations seven years ago, because of the historic underfunding of rural communities by foundations.”
Thankfully, this narrative is beginning to shift. While inequity in resource allocation to rural communities persists across the arts and culture sector; agencies, foundations, and support organizations are beginning to take note of the value of rural arts and humanities organizations, and are increasing their investment in rural communities. This blog post is aimed to inform rural arts and culture practitioners of the opportunities available for capital, human, and social investment in rural organizations.
The Year of the Rural Arts and the Rural Arts Resource Directory
2014 marks the inaugural Year of the Rural Arts: a biennial program of events, conversations, and online features celebrating the diverse, vital ways in which rural arts and humanities contribute to American life. This inaugural effort connects citizens, artists, scholars, designers, and entrepreneurs and meets with audiences on the grounds of universities, museums and galleries, cultural organizations, and across rural and urban communities. Coordinated by Art of the Rural and organized by a collective of individuals, organizations, and communities; we utilize a digital platform to elevate the rural arts field by facilitating rural-urban dialogue and cross-sector exchange.
Each time we partner with regional organizations to build digital networks on the Atlas of Rural Arts and Culture, we attempt to strengthen those networks on the ground by connecting rural organizations and individuals to one another, and to regional and national associations and opportunities. Through this process and the contributions of many advisors and stakeholders, we’ve created an online rural arts resource directory, complete with a variety of helpful toolkits, funding opportunities, networks and associations, conferences, webinars, professional development opportunities, websites, books, and articles related to rural arts and culture.
The range and diversity of resources included in this directory are exciting. We identified more than 50 funding and support opportunities for rural and cultural organizations from federal assistance programs, foundations, and corporate grant makers. Read the rest of this entry »