Greetings from the Arts & Democracy Project! 

On March 5th, the Arts & Democracy Project hosted Stories & Places, a conference call exploring the fundamental role of rural place-based culture to shape our sense of authentic human attachment and community and to advance racial and economic equity. amalia deloney, Center for Media Justice and Arts & Democracy Project, began the call by evoking the smells and sensations that made up her sense of place and belonging: 

"I have as many memories about long searches for the proper "corn" for tamale making as I do of my Auntie buying seaweed and salt to put in the bathtub and then opening the door — to fill the house with the smell of the ocean that she missed."

We also heard from Logan Anderson, First Peoples Fund, Walter Mack, Penn Center, Ada Smith, STAY Project, and Matthew Fluharty, Art of the Rural and Rural Arts & Culture Working Group. The presenters spoke about culturally-based work in a diverse range of contexts including traditional practice, opportunities for young people as emerging leaders, ecological and cultural stewardship, and cross-sector partnerships.  

In this e-newsletter, you will find the conference call recording as well as other resources related to the Stories & Places call.


The Challenge America Fast-Track Grant  Deadline: May 23, 2013

This grant offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations.    

First Peoples Fund 2014 Community Spirit Awards Call for Nominations! Deadline: May 31, 2013

A national fellowship award for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists. 


First Peoples Fund's mission is to honor and support the creative community-centered First Peoples artists, and nurture the collective spirit that allows them to sustain their peoples. The vision of First Peoples Fund is to communicate to the world the roots and philosophy of Indigenous artistic expression and its relationship to the collective spirit of First Peoples.  

Penn Center, located on St. Helena Island in the South Carolina Sea
Islands, is recognized as one of the nation's oldest and most significant African American cultural and historic institutions. Their mission is "to promote and preserve the history and culture of the Sea Islands." It serves as a local, national and international education center, and vigorously promotes the influence of the Gullah culture on our nation's collective heritage.

STAY Project (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) is a diverse regional network of young people throughout Central Appalachia who are working together to advocate for and actively participate in their home mountain communities — irrespective of where they live, their economic background, race, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or cultural background. 

Art of the Rural is a collaborative multimedia organization with a mission to promote diverse, interdisciplinary narratives of contemporary rural arts and culture. It co-convened the inaugural meeting of the Rural Art & Culture Working Group — along with Double Edge Theatre and the Center for Rural Strategies — in August 2012.

Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) organizes to build power in historically disenfranchised communities. They do this through leadership development and direct grassroots organizing to influence public policy in ways that create healthier communities.


Creative Engagement and a Moral Economy in Appalachia 

Caron Atlas' essay on MicroFest: Appalachia (a project of the Network of Ensemble Theaters) focuses on the connections between civic capacity, imagination, and moral economy in Appalachia. Stimulated by a cultural organizing workshop led by the Highlander Center, a key Appalachian institution and gathering place, Atlas reflects on the work of activist scholar Helen Lewis and her essay, "Rebuilding Communities: A Twelve-Step Recovery Program." 


The Rural Cultural Roundtable Report demonstrates the role of place-based culture and creative industries in rural communities. It documents a roundtable that took place just prior to the 2011 National Rural Assembly that was co-sponsored by Arts & Democracy Project, Center for Rural Strategies, and InCommon. 


Bridge Conversations

Some of the most powerful change happens in the intersections of generations, cultures, sectors, and geographies. Bridge Conversations contains stories about these intersections and the people who make them. Check out these conversations 

specifically about rural contexts: 


Organic and Traditional Bridging: Francisco Guajardo and Edyael Casaperalta on intentionality, consciousness, and creating new opportunities. 


Listening to the Stories Underneath the Work We Do: Paula Allen and R. Lena Richardson talk about traditional arts and culture as resources for Native community health.


Aesthetics and Mathematics of Social Change: Dee Davis and Michelle Miller discuss the art of strategic communications.


Connecting Action and Academia in California's Central Valley: Isao Fujimoto and Tim Marema on the power of 'edgewalking'.


Direct and Indirect Approaches to Community Change 

Littleglobe and Southwest Organizing Project talk about finding a relationship between community-engaged arts and organizing.




Appalshop is a multi-disciplinary arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia producing original films, video, theater, music and spoken-word recordings, radio, photography, multimedia, and books. Appalshop has an extensive film and media collection available on their website. 


The Center for Rural Strategies seeks to improve economic and social conditions for communities in the countryside and around the world through the creative and innovative use of media and communications.  They produce the Daily Yonder, a daily, on-line,  multi-media source of news, commentary, research, and features about rural U.S. 


Feral Arts is one of Australia's leaders in the field of digital storytelling, community mapping and communications. They developed PlaceStories, a map-based digital storytelling software that supports a wide range of community-focused communications and storytelling projects in Australia & the U.S.


Art of Regional Change is a campus/community engagement initiative that brings together scholars, students, artists, and community groups to collaborate on place-based media arts projects that strengthen communities, generate engaged scholarship and inform regional decision-making.




Playing for the Public Good: The Arts in Planning and Government 

This paper highlights a wide range of arts and culture-based projects or programs that broaden participation and deepen meaning beyond typical planning processes and/or governmental systems and structures. 


Philanthropy and the Regeneration of Community Democracy 

Peter Pennekamp explores the questions of why and how community democracy can be both a cultural choice and an organizing system for philanthropy. He offers stories to illustrate principles and practices refined by experiences in Northern California and elsewhere.




Toolkit for Change: Using Personal Stories to Sustain Working  


Landscapes and Rural Communities is part facilitation guide and part training guide. It highlights the multi-media digital storytelling process focused on using personal stories to sustain working landscapes, natural resources, and rural communities.  


Sustaining Rural Places Toolkit offers information on steps you can take to sustain the land, water, and open space in your community for generations to come. The toolkit includes conservation easement background and tools, public participation tools, land use planning tools, and watershed tools. This is a collaborative effort between the Sierra Business Council and Saving the Sierra


As always, we're proud to highlight the great work in this field to support and cross-pollinate an extraordinary network of artists, cultural workers, policymakers, educators, and activists. Please be in touch, and let us know what you think!


All our best,

Amalia, Caron, Kathie, Javiera, and Michelle
Arts & Democracy Project