Next Generation

NEXT GENERATION is a Partnership with

Art of the Rural and RUPRI


Follow from the National Rural Creative Placemaking Summit  held October 12-14.

Keynote – Secretary Vilsack: click here

Short Summit Video:  click here

Videos of the Plenary Sessions: click here

Check out storify: click here

Click  below to view  Summit Program and Biographies of Presenters:





Next Generation: The Future of Arts & Culture Placemaking in Rural America, engages artists, organizations and communities across public, private and philanthropic sectors to advance collaboration, innovative strategies, and “Next Generation” leadership in rural creative placemaking. Through the expertise and networks of the Rural Policy Research Institute and Art of the Rural and the program’s regional and national partners, Next Generation operates through three interlinked activities: Regional Networks; a Digital Learning Commons; and a Next Generation Conference.

In 2015, Next Generation was selected as one of five national “knowledge building” projects supported by an Our Town award from the National Endowment for the Arts. You can learn more about the program of work here: Next Generation: The Future of Arts & Culture Placemaking in Rural America.

The Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) and Art of the Rural (AOTR)  launched a Digital Learning Commons: A platform for storytelling, research, and best practices, the Commons fosters an inclusive space for deeper collaboration and learning exchange, to assert the essential role of arts and cultural organizations in rural economic and community development. This initiative is designed and facilitated in concert with a wide range of regional and national partners and supported by The University of Iowa and The National Endowment for the Arts.

Click here for full press release


Link to view website

Art of the Rural (AOTR): Art of the Rural is a collaborative organization with a mission to help build the field of the rural arts and shape new narratives on rural culture and community. They work online and on the ground through interdisciplinary and cross-sector partnerships to advance engaged collaborations that transcend imposed boundaries and articulates the shared reality of rural and urban America.

Regional Networks

Next Generation Regional Networks self-define their objectives, enhance linkages across the community and economic development, arts, and policy communities, and create cross-sector projects that address the needs and opportunities of their shared regions. Our initial cohort of Regional Networks included Iowa, Kentucky, and Minnesota. In each, Next Generation facilitated three integrated strategies for rural advancement:

1 – A Regional Network Working Group that advances institutional, public and private support for Regional Networks while informing policy and practice across the region.

2 – Collaborative Projects designed with Next Generation leadership to enhance cross-sector networks and articulate a common mission for their shared region.

3 – Regional Convenings to facilitate the convergence of these cross-sector networks. The first round of these gatherings occurred in summer of 2016.

Knowledge Building and Learning Commons

To assert the essential role of arts and cultural organizations in economic and community development, the metrics built by Next Generation inform and validate program and policy exemplars as an essential component of knowledge building in this field. Through the production and release of case studies, policy briefs, publications, videos and podcasts, this digital Learning Commons offers an inclusive platform for features, commentary, and best practices from across the rural arts and culture field. The Learning Commons was developed by Arts and Ideas, whose design combines social giving, civic engagement, and into a single platform. To visit the Learning Commons, visit:

The Next Generation initiative emerged as a result of conversations between the leadership and staff of Art of the Rural and the Rural Policy Research Institute, as they came to realize that the mission, collaborative partnerships, and credibility with which each operated in their respective areas of expertise were critical to those of the other.

Matthew Fluharty, Art of the Rural, Winona, Minnesota
Savannah Barrett, Art of the Rural, Louisville, Kentucky
Charles Fluharty, Rural Policy Research Institute, Iowa City, Iowa
Teresa Kittridge, Rural Policy Research Institute, Marcel, Minnesota

More information on our staff, and a list of relevant publications, videos, and conversations they have contributed within this field: Next Generation Staff Bios

2015-2016 Next Generation Regional Networks

In Iowa, the Regional Network Working Group was co-chaired by Matthew Harris, Administrator of the Iowa Arts Council, and Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa.

In Kentucky, the Regional Network Working Group was co-chaired by Sandi Curd, Promise Zone Coordinator for the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, and Lori Meadows, Executive Director of the Kentucky Arts Council.

In Minnesota, the Regional Network Working Group was co-chaired by Michele Anderson, Rural Program Director of Springboard for the Arts, and Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development State Director in Minnesota.

Next Generation Partners

Appalshop, Arts & Ideas, Des Moines Social Club, Double Edge Theatre, Kentucky Arts Council, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, M12 Collective, Minnesota Region Five Development Commission, Springboard for the Arts, USDA Rural Development and the State USDA Rural Development offices in Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Wormfarm Institute, and many stakeholders of AOTR and RUPRI joined us as founding partners.

The National Endowment for the Arts: This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Next Generation Advisors

Next Generation Advisors are a committed cadre of national leaders in their respective disciplines, and each contributes significant expertise, networks, and vision for rural advancement. Advisors will assist in Next Generation program design and the national conference, and they will participate in innovation labs on shared language and new methodologies for rural creative placemaking.

Advisor Image Set_Page_1

Kiley Arroyo: Cultural Strategies Council, San Francisco, California

Paul Bonin-Rodriguez: University of Texas-Austin

Dudley Cocke: Appalshop and Roadside Theater, Norton, Virginia

Sue Curry: Dean of the College of Public Health, University of Iowa

Jay Dick: Americans for the Arts, Washington, DC

Cheryal Hills: Region Five Development Corporation, Staples, MN

Judi Jennings: Retired, Kentucky Foundation for Women, Louisville, Kentucky

Tim Lampkin: Lampkin Consulting Group, Clarksdale, Mississippi

Linda Langston: National Association of Counties, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Zach Mannheimer: Iowa Business Growth Company, Des Moines, Iowa

Nikiko Masumoto: Masumoto Family Farms, Fresno, California

Donna Neuwirth: Wormfarm Institute, Reedsburg, Wisconsin

Amrita Ramanan: Double Edge Theatre, Ashfield, Massachusetts

John “Bob” Reeder: Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Baltimore, Maryland

Michael Rohd: The Center for Performance and Civic Practice, Chicago, Illinois

Richard Saxton: M12 Collective, Byers, Colorado

Theresa Secord: Retired, Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, Bar Harbor, Maine

William Turner: Prairie View A&M, Prairie View, Texas

Laura Zabel: Springboard for the Arts, St. Paul, Minnesota

More information on these Advisors is available here.

Rural Creative Placemaking Summit

The Rural Creative Placemaking Summit was designed to enhance cross-sector collaboration, elevate intercultural perspectives within the field, and build policy presence for deeper consideration of rural creative placemaking. The Summit was held October 12-14, 2016 at the University of Iowa, this gathering shared reflections from Regional Network members, connect lessons across geographies, and build deeper cross-sector collaborations. Together, we will presented a sustained argument for the centrality of rural creative placemaking – as a field, and as a strategy for development and community sustainability.


Follow the Next Generation Digital Exchange Series! Roughly every three weeks, these Digital Exchanges offer an opportunity for folks to come together and engage with leaders working across the dynamic range of ­fields that compose the foundation of rural creative placemaking. Each of these one hour Digital Exchanges feature 2-4 voices from across the country, sharing speci­fic themes, challenges, and opportunities we collectively encounter in this work. This Digital Exchange series is made possible through the support of the Rural Policy Research Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts and the McKnight Foundation, and is produced at the Outpost collaborative space in Winona, Minnesota, national headquarters of Art of the Rural.

A Kentucky project from the RUPRI/AOTR “Next Generation” initiative bridges the rural/urban divide, in a ground- breaking exchange of  creative  Next Generation leaders, across the Commonwealth.

The Daily Yonder Features the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange


Art of the Rural and RUPRI receive one of five NEA Knowledge Building grants for creative placemaking

Next Gen NEA Press Release RUPRI

Next Generation: Future of Arts and Culture Placemaking in Rural America

Art of the Rural, in partnership with the Rural Policy Research Institute at the University of Iowa, will expand the potential for rural creative placemaking within broader cultural and development based conversations through a digital learning commons, a national convening, regional networking activities, and knowledge exchanges in rural Iowa, Kentucky, and Minnesota. An extensive network of rural arts and community development partners will help to execute the project, including Appalshop, Des Moines Social Club, Springboard for the Arts, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Wormfarm Institute, M12 Collective, Double Edge Theater, and Kentucky Governor’s Office.

Next Generation: The Future of Arts & Culture Placemaking in Rural America

Photo Credit Savannah Barrett. Caption. Exchange network members from Louisville and Hindman look out over Eastern Kentucky from Pine MountainThe Regional Network in Kentucky supports the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange.
Alex Udis, a square dance caller from Louisville, joins Kim Owsley, a Native American artist and healer from Hindman, to take in the view from Pine Mountain during an Exchange. Photo Credit: Savannah Barrett

Rural Arts and Culture Summit – Minnesota – Summer 2015

“Next Generation” Plenary Conversation at the Rural Arts and Culture Summit with Matthew Fluharty, Executive Director, Art of the Rural and Charles Fluharty President and CEO, RUPRI

Fermentation Fest – Wisconsin Fall 2014 2015

“Art of the Rural: Creating Thriving Places Beyond the City” was a panel discussion hosted by the Wormfarm Institute as the final event of Fermentation Fest 2014–A Live Culture Convergence.
Panelists included Jamie Bennett, ArtPlace America; Matthew Fluharty, Art of the Rural; Charles Fluharty, Rural Policy Research Institute; Sarah Lloyd, Wisconsin Farmers Union; and Stan Gruszynski, USDA Rural Development

Webinar: CommunityMatters® and Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

Charles Fluharty (Rural Policy Research Institute) and Savannah Barrett (Art of the Rural) present their work with the Next Generation Initiative regarding creative urban + rural alliances for this CommunityMatters® and Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design™ event.