Arts & Creative placemaking

Arts enrich rural communities

The arts: design, architecture, music, writing, performance, visual art are a catalyst for place making. Rural areas are no exception. The Art of the Appalachian Region and its people are rooted in place, and share the stories of generations.

There are 3,069 counties in America, of this number, 70% are considered rural with populations under 50,000. Rural areas are often regarded as an under-served population, and the artists, art institutions and organizations who are a part of these communities are assumed to have little impact on the national conversation about arts and culture. This thinking is incorrect.

In 2012, the Research and Analysis arm of the National Endowment for the Arts (ACPSA) reported that the arts and culture production contributed more than $698 billion to the US economy, or 4.3% of the US gross domestic product. Arts and culture spending has a ripple effect on the overall economy, boosting ancillary businesses like retail, restaurant, and lodging.

Within Kentucky's creative industry, according to the 2014 Creative Industry Report issued by the Kentucky Arts Council, there are approximately 60,000 direct jobs, a number which places the creative industry ahead of other key industries such as bio-science and auto and aircraft manufacturing in terms of employment. When rural communities welcome the arts and artists, economic development ensues.

For example, the small community of Paducah, Kentucky developed a cohesive identity around its core assets of artistic and cultural offerings, and its rich history. A study conducted by Americans for the Arts found that, in 2007, nonprofit arts and culture organizations generated $39.9 million in local economic activity in Paducah, a town of 25,000 people, supporting 819 full-time jobs and generating $3.6 million in local and state government tax-revenue.

Milkweed and Opossum, 2019, Harlan, Kentucky by Lacy Hale

exterior acrylic mural paint on polytab materialOverall 800 sq ftCourtesy of the artist

Hard Times, 2002

by Jeff Chapman-Crane

egg tempera30 x 40"Photo: Malcolm J. Wilson

Upon the Arrival of my Family/A la llegada de mi familia, 1993

by Elizabeth Mesa Gaido

Wood, paper, billboard images, leaves, vines, dirt, clay powder, glue, photograph, hand-stitched vinyl, monitor with video, and audio track7' x 10' x 5'Courtesy the artist

Forget Me (k)Not, 2014

by Melissa Vandenburg

Handkerchiefs, sewing notions, sewing machine & hardwareVariable dimensionsLexington Art League, Lexington, KYImage courtesy of Maus Contemporary, Birmingham, AL

Bad Branch

by Douglas Adams