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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Iowa’s RUPRI Partners in Creative Placemaking Initiative

Art of the Rural, in partnership with the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) based at the University of Iowa, will receive a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to continue the work of its Next Generation rural creative placemaking initiative.

The NEA’s Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that strategically link communities and local governments with artists, designers, and arts organizations to improve quality of life, create a sense of place, and revitalize local economies. The latest round of Our Town grants will award $4.3 million to support 64 projects nationwide.

“For six years, Our Town has made a difference for people and the places where they live, work, and play,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Projects such as Next Generation help residents engage the arts to spark vitality in their communities.”

Next Generation engages artists, organizations, and communities across the public and private sector to advance collaboration, share innovative strategies and research, and elevate emerging leaders in the rural creative placemaking field.

“We appreciate NEA’s continuing support of this initiative, premised upon our belief that rural arts and culture remain underappreciated as a foundational wealth in rural America, deserving of far greater public and philanthropic sector investment,” said Mr. Chuck Fluharty, clinical professor in the University of Iowa College of Public Health and RUPRI President and CEO. “These partnerships, and the Next Generation leadership they support, are a place-based movement to enhance both that awareness and that commitment.”

Next Generation links three activities: Regional Networks that spark exchange, collaboration, and dissemination of best practices; a Digital Learning Commons that shares this knowledge and contributes further perspectives from across the rural arts and culture field; and a Next Generation Conference that will merge the activities of the Networks and Commons, combine digital and face-to-face exchange, and expand the rural placemaking network.

“The Endowment’s support has been crucial in our efforts to facilitate a collaborative, open space for folks from across sectors, disciplines, and geographies,” said Dr. Matthew Fluharty, executive director of Art of the Rural. “We are grateful to work with these various communities to build deeper systems of learning and exchange.”

For a complete list of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, visit the NEA web site at The NEA’s online resource, Exploring Our Town, features case studies of more than 70 Our Town projects along with lessons learned and other resources.