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Looking Back: Fourth Annual Rural Arts and Culture Summit

A panel of speakers on a stage
Author: 
Sarah Freske ’18
Publication date: 
June 27, 2017
“[The summit] creates an opportunity for arts leaders, arts enthusiasts, artists, and other people in economic development or teaching to come together.”—Lil Robinson, director of the Blue Earth Town & Country Players

Earlier this month the University of Minnesota, Morris hosted the 2017 Rural Arts and Culture Summit, which brought together a community concerned about arts in rural spaces.

The summit featured speakers from a variety of backgrounds and mediums, including Beyond Buckskin creator Jessica Metcalfe, Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University Anton Treuer, discussing culture and the arts in rural communities.

Summit participants gathered each morning for panels before dispersing to breakout sessions with other presenters. These sessions focused on inclusion and advocacy, and how rural communities can work to include people of color, children, and elders in conversations about arts and culture.

As panel moderator Ashley Hanson of Public Transformation noted, similar motivation among presenters and participants created a common ground from which constructive conversations were possible.

"[The summit] creates an opportunity for arts leaders, arts enthusiasts, artists, and other people in economic development or teaching to come together," says Lil Robinson, director of the Blue Earth Town & Country Players. "Having 300 people who are likeminded and want to build vibrant communities is great."

This year marked the fourth Rural Arts and Culture Summit, and the third to be held at Morris. With 390 participants representing 22 states, summit attendance surpassed that of any previous year.

"The summit gives participants a chance to explore new ideas because they're already doing a lot of things in their community," says Brenda Byron, director of the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council. "But you have to be inspired, and you have to nourish yourself to go back to your town and keep doing it, because the work is hard and takes a lot of personal time."

For Robinson, Byron, and other participants, the summit created an opportunity to share ideas, inspire others, and be inspired to continue advocating for the arts in rural communities.

For more information about the Rural Arts and Culture Summit, visit ruralartsandculturesummit.com.