Breakout Session A

Friday, October 4, 11:00am – 12:15pm


Bringing Dance to Your Rural Community: Starting a Dialogue

Ayumi Shafer and Molly Johnston (DanceBARN Collective)

DanceBARN Collective, based in Battle Lake, Minnesota is committed to creating dance opportunities to rural communities through community events, residencies, and activities that draw in those who may have misguided views about dance and the arts.They will share how, as a new arts organization in the community, their ideas engaged with and challenged local residents. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in activities they’ve created to make dance more inclusive, like “Dance Dice” and their community screendance events. This session will inspire others to involve dance and movement in their projects as well as explore broader topics related to arts in rural communities such as collaborations, obstacles, and accessibility.


WE CAN! Working Towards Equity in Rural Communities through Female-led Artistic Interventions and Creative Action

Ashley Hanson, Lauren Carlson, Saara Raapana, Cassie Williams, Esmeralda Hernandez (Women’s Empowerment Creative Action Network)

A recent Creative Minnesota report stated that female artists receive only 50% on the dollar of what male artists are paid in Southwestern Minnesota. To address substantial inequities, ten female-artists from the region co-organized a Women’s Empowerment Creative Action Network to utilize arts and culture strategies to produce creative events, activities, trainings, peer learning groups, and gathering spaces that allow women and people of color to strengthen leadership skills, cultivate creativity, make connections, and encourage active participation in civic processes. In this session, WE CAN! artists will first share their process for coming together and the creative strategies they are developing and implementing to build leadership through creative action, and then facilitate an interactive workshop for participants to create their own “action bank,” of strategies to address equitable opportunity in their community.


Art and Agriculture: Curating in the Hedgerows

Anne Dugan (Free Range Film Festival)

In farming terms, field trials are an opportunity to determine effectiveness of experimental techniques. In the arts, experiments are usually only visible in the artist studio. “Free Range Trials” is a lab for artistic process and creative testing through the exhibition of contemporary art. To celebrate the creative energy that can benefit from cross-pollination between these two fields, curator and organic farmer Anne Dugan will facilitate a conversation about the intersections of sustainable agriculture practices and contemporary arts, including examples of alternative spaces for visual arts and moving image exhibitions, and ideas for audience development in rural landscapes.


Program Evaluation 101: Crafting a Plan You Can Actually Use

Rachel Brown (Rachel Brown Consulting)

When you get to the Evaluation section of a grant proposal, do you groan a bit or maybe even panic? Do you ever feel like program evaluation is just a reporting hoop to jump through? When writing an evaluation plan do you ever feel like you are making stuff up or just putting in what you think the funders want to hear? If you answered yes to any (or all!) of these questions, come for a fresh look at the power of program evaluation to get you information that you can use to reflect on your art, connect with your communities, and help explain your work to others. We’ll cover topics such as how to build an evaluation team, collect and use data, write reports, and more. This session includes handouts designed to have participants become more confident and effective program evaluators for their art and/or arts organization.


Sustainable Mending in our Communities

Maday Delgado (Free Spirit Designs)

At a time when technology seems to rule much of our interactions and also unify people from all over the world, this session will focus on creative placemaking through “mending.” From the standpoint of leading a more sustainable future, working on repairing the clothes we have is a mindful technique that welcomes the perspective and traditions of our ancestors and helps the environment in the long run. At a more basic level, we can participate in the practice of “making do” with what we have instead of purchasing and discarding garments that make their way into landfills across the United States. Mending has been a social activity as much as it has been a needed one, from the practice of Sashiko in Japan to the resourcefulness of the quilters of Gee’s Bend in Alabama; my hope is to bring awareness on how our traditions across cultures and generations, can help us lead more sustainable and fulfilling lives, while encouraging collaboration and community.


Welcome to this Place: Rural Artist Retreats and Residencies

Naomi Schliesman (Springboard for the Arts), Sarah Waddle (North House Folk School), Patricia Canelake and Frank Sander (Little Knife Sanctuary), Andrew Ranville (Rabbit Island), Derek Hamm (Tallgrass Artist Residency)

Any residency is an act of exchange, whether it’s with the natural world on a remote island or with local residents of a small town. What do artists bring and leave behind when they visit? How is the environment or the community changed as a result? Meet leaders of 5 rural residency programs to hear how visiting artists are interacting with places like the Kansas prairie, the folk art traditions of a small community, an abandoned state hospital, the Northwoods, and a remote island on Lake Superior. Learn about how each of them are creating unique conditions and opportunities for artists to feel supported, focused, and inspired, and learn about the local impact and lessons of welcoming artists to these places.


The Power of Listening and Learning: There are no experts here.

Bob Reeder (Rural LISC), Susan DuPlessis (South Carolina Arts Commission)

Bob and Susan will facilitate a lively discussion that showcases five examples of the power of learning and listening across rural America. A broad brush will include: Huntington, In; New Iberia, LA; Tamaqua, PA, Coachella, CA; Sisseton, SD; Wilson, NC; and a rural region of six South Carolina counties. Two panelists will be invited to join Bob and Susan in a deeper conversation that examines the powerful elements of listening and learning; mistakes and retakes; reconsideration of ego and elevation of the people of the place.