Why do the arts matter so much in rural areas? The arts are needed now more than ever to heal the social fabric, grow the population, drive the local economy and, in some cases, replace lost industries. Post-pandemic, a significant portion of the population hungers for hands-on, in-person arts experiences at a human scale. At the same time, rural areas are ripe with innovation, community connections, and an entrepreneurial spirit that fits well with creativity and arts-based community engagement. As rural areas continue to evolve past their previous ties to agriculture, industry, and mining, the arts offer new ways to enrich communities, spark local economies, and create tourist destinations, in tandem with their glorious surroundings.
One goal of this book is to help dispel the myth of rural equaling white people. Six of the twelve arts organizations featured in this book are led by people of color and/or serve populations in which people of color are the majority. Eleven of the twelve organizations are led in part or entirely by female-identifying arts leaders. These numbers are happy accidents and not criteria of the selection or search process. It just turns out that, when you start looking for wonderful rural arts organizations, you find diversity.
Managing the Arts in Rural Areas explores the challenges facing rural communities today and the positive impacts provided by the arts on economic development, diversity, equity, inclusion and access, fundraising, arts education, and community development. With dynamic case studies on arts organizations in rural areas from Alaska to Alabama and from Montana to Arizona, Managing the Arts in Rural Areas gives readers deep insights into how the arts are helping to define and grow rural areas today.
David Andrew Snider is the president and CEO of Integrated Arts Management, LLC, the executive & artistic director of the Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, and has more than 25 years of experience as an arts administrator, educator, producer, and author. David received the Meyer Foundation’s $100,000 Exponent Award for visionary leadership of a nonprofit, amongst many other honors, and has taught Arts Management for over a decade at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He is also the author of Managing Arts Organizations, a lecturer in the Arts Administration Program at Skidmore College and resides in the village of Cambridge, NY, with his wife and children. thedavidsnider.com
Table of Contents
Preface: Planting Seeds
Part I—Why the Arts Matter in Rural Areas
Part II—The Rural Arts in Action
Epilogue: The Harvest
About the Author
In this book, David Snider shines a bright light on the plight and possibilities of the arts in rural settings. Through a careful examination of the latest research on the demographics, socio-economic issues, and legacies of rural America, he lays out a clear and comprehensive map of what it means to run an arts organization outside major urban centers. Rather than being framed as bucolic places of beauty, or as sterile, poverty-ridden and bleak, Snider’s rural communities are shown to have with significant challenges, yes, but also a remarkable aptitude for resilience, solidarity, generosity, and care. He argues persuasively that rural areas are reflective of larger societal issues at play in today’s polarized America, and that the arts are “well-suited to activating and advancing rural economies” and to rebuilding tattered social fabrics. His inclusion of eleven case studies from across the country serve to underscore these points. This book will be of great interest to arts management scholars and practitioners interested in social justice, economic development, community engagement, fundraising, and governance.