The Rural Arts and Culture Summit meeting last week on the bucolic campus of the University of Minnesota-Morris, rates a 100% positive score! The RAC gathering was genuinely and consistently informative, inspiring and certifiably Way Above Average!
The biennial Summit drew 400+ representatives of arts organizations and community groups, visual artists, writers, educators, elected officials and just a few of us who simply care deeply about arts and culture in our communities and our lives.
Though most attendees were Minnesota-based the speakers came from communities around the country, each selected because of her or his unique perspective on the arts and culture. My post-Summit reflections on the plenary sessions, the small group presentations, the exhibits and the casual conversations, are through the lens of stories and a profound of sense of place, threads woven throughout the Summit. The threads represent the myriad ways in which the arts both create and tell the story of the community, of a unique place and its people. In new ways I understand the arts, broadly defined to include visual arts, music, theater, literature and more, as unique streams of light, creating and reinforcing a sense of community in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Happily, Springboard for the Arts has magically posted videos of the plenary sessions on their Creative Exchange: (http://springboardexchange.org/rural-arts-culture-summit-videos/) . Check them out – you’ll understand intuitively the reason that conversations among attendees over lunch and during campus strolls were spirited, free-wheeling and bursting with creative energy. In my mind’s eye I see the sparks from Morris igniting place-oriented art and cultural activities in small towns and neighborhoods throughout the region.
Creativity is a magical force. When people of good will gather not to preach or posture but to learn and share, the flow of ideas is palpable. When the environment is idyllic, those ideas flourish, morphing and adapting in unique and wondrous ways, ever at the ready to enliven a community whether that community is a small town, a neighborhood or an arts organization.
And that’s how change happens!
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For glimpses of ideas in motion at the RAC Summit click here: