A Guide to Foster America's Rural Creative Sector

The guide Rural Prosperity through the Arts and Creative Sector: A rural action guide for governors and states tackles how a growing body of research shows that arts-based economic development can help communities to thrive.

A collaboration between the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), "the guide points to the arts as a key ingredient in comprehensive rural development efforts, noting that the creative sector complements other industries and can boost the efficacy of state economic development policies, partnerships, and plans," according to the press release. The guide offers policy solutions that draw on home-grown arts and cultural assets to address the problems facing rural America while also sharing stories of rural communities thriving.

To capitalize on existing regional cultural assets, the guide recommends that governors and states:

  • Map assets in the state’s rural regions for use.
  • Connect leaders in creative communities so they can learn from each other and use their collective resources.
  • Reinforce local branding to help both visitors and resident entrepreneurs and businesspeople reimagine their communities.
  • Promote a cultural heritage perspective on rural tourism growth and development.
  • Embed creative sector and placemaking initiatives into broader community planning and main street development

Among many examples, the guide discusses promoting a cultural heritage perspective on rural tourism growth and development. In some states, details the guide, "the state arts agency has coordinated with other statewide agencies on initiating or expanding cultural and heritage tourism programs. Two states that exemplify successful crossorganizational collaboration between cultural, heritage, and tourism agencies include Georgia and Oregon."

On designing state programs that enable staff to do inclusive artist outreach and engagement, the guide discusses an example in South Dakota:

In South Dakota, Rolling Rez Arts is a mobile artist studio, classroom, bank and marketplace that travels across South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (which is more than three times the size of Rhode Island) in support of Native American artists. The bus brings a host of creative career resources to arts entrepreneurs who would otherwise not have access to them. Resources include business workshops, digital equipment, design and film-editing software and a safe to help them with their banking needs. Through “buying
days,” the program connects artists and their work to markets that are inaccessible because of geographic distances, lack of public transportation or other reasons.

Read here the report.

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