Kentucky to form working group for Next Generation effort to help rural communities attract, retain future leaders


First public meeting set for May 20

Staff Report



As a component of their “Next Generation: The Future of Rural Arts and Culture Placemaking” initiative, Art of the Rural (AOTR) and the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) today announced the formation of a Kentucky working group to help rural communities attract and retain the next generation of leaders. It also named co-chairs of the effort.

Lori Meadows, executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council; and Sandi Curd, Promise Zone coordinator for Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, will serve as the co-chairs of the Kentucky Regional Network Working Group. The initiative is part of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town “knowledge building” grant.

Curd and Meadows will be taking this initiative forward along with diverse and experienced working group team members from across Kentucky’s regions and sectors. Working Group members are Sarah Allan, Jessica Bellamy, Joe Berry, Aleta Botts, Brandon Coan, Ron Daley, Allison Davis, Katherine Frank, Alexander Gibson, Hilda Legg, Timothy McNeilly, Gerry Roll, Rita Smart, Brandon Smith, Regina Stivers, and Debbie Zuerner-Johnson. For a complete list of Working Group member affiliations, please see the roster below.

Kentucky’s Next Generation Working Group has defined creative placemaking as “any artistic, food, crafts, small business/entrepreneurial activity or endeavor that tells a community’s unique story — both past and present — to pull people together, create a sense of place, strengthen the health and improve the quality of life for everyone in that community.” The goal of the initiative is to help rural communities attract and retain the next generation of leaders.

Designed and facilitated by Art of the Rural and the Rural Policy Research Institute, the initiative engages artists, organizations and communities across the public and private sector to collaborate, share innovative strategies and research, and elevate emerging leaders in the field.

The first public meeting will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 20 in Whitesburg.

“These Kentucky partnerships and the national efforts of Art of the Rural and the Rural Policy Research Institute unite strong public policy perspectives with robust arts and culture innovations taking place across America,” said Matthew Fluharty, executive director of Art of the Rural. “The next generation of rural citizens and leaders demand resilient, inclusive and creative places. We find the pathways to that future in the space where these fields converge.”

The working group team members are from across Kentucky’s regions and sectors. (See below for a complete list.)

“Kentucky has a strong creative industry that is growing,” Meadows said. “The Next Generation initiative will bring diverse sectors together to share best practices and develop innovative ways to address challenges. Kentucky’s emerging leaders will use this integration to engage stakeholders, mobilize opportunities and leverage investment to further creative placemaking in the Commonwealth.”

Curd added: “Kentuckians are known for having a strong sense of place. We have a deep connection to our hometowns. This effort will create successful strategies for making communities leverage their strengths in a way that appeals to these future leaders.”

May 20 meeting

Hosted at Appalshop in Whitesburg from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 20, the Next Generation Kentucky Convening will be the first opportunity for the newly established Regional Network Working Group to connect emerging innovators with established leadership, and create opportunities for cross-sector collaboration across regions of the Commonwealth.

Together, they will debut their newly created definition of creative placemaking that is specific to Kentucky. The vision for this convening is to exchange best practices; advance institutional, public and private support for creative placemaking in Kentucky; and begin to inform state leverage for such work. Participants will have opportunities to engage with sub-committees of the Working Group, as well connect with rural creative placemaking exemplars in eastern Kentucky, many of whom have attracted significant federal and philanthropic investment for the Commonwealth.

It is open to the public. Registration is free, but space is limited. Please register by May 16 at: http://artscouncil.ky.gov/Opportunities/NextGeneration-Register.htm.Travel support may be available to help with mileage expenses.

“Appalshop is excited to bring this network together in eastern Kentucky, where innovative creative placemaking projects are revitalizing communities that are struggling economically as a result of a declining coal industry,” said Appalshop Executive Director Alex Gibson. “We’re designing this event as a place for leaders from across the state to come together, learn about, and collaborate on new approaches to community development in order to move our Commonwealth forward.”

For additional information about the National Next Generation Initiative, visit the website as Next Generation, email info@ruralgeneration.org, and follow Next Generation on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about the Kentucky Network, visit: https://ruralgeneration.org/regions/kentucky/

First public meeting set for May 20

Staff Report

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