Arts Based Community Development

Rural arts programs build on history and strong ties to community and how it works

Recently, I had the honor of working with the Nebraska Arts Council to review arts projects in communities across the state. It has been both rewarding and informative.

Arts based community development has been practiced for years, but it takes a different connotation in small rural communities. In urban areas, arts development is on display in museums, theaters, concerts, and art galleries. Exhibits are plentiful, and there is no limit to creativity and devotion to the arts.

Small rural communities have taken arts in another direction with a different focus. Rural community arts programs seem to build on a sense of place and history. Art focuses on integrating into the community and how it works.

Low Graduation a ‘National Epidemic’

Instead of supporting the schools with the highest graduation rates – small schools – public policy is forcing many to shut their doors

Spring is a time of renewal and new beginnings. This holds true for many graduating high school seniors. We ask ourselves, what does it take to graduate from high school, an accomplishment that seems to be a given to many, an obstacle to others, and an unnecessary milestone to a few.

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings and U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy wrote an opinion piece in May identifying low high school graduation as a national epidemic affecting approximately 1 million students each year.

Business Succession Critical to Communities

Many small businesses are set to change hands; REAP helps to prepare communities

Business succession is critical to our rural communities’ survival. Several Nebraska communities have hosted seminars to learn more about what they can do as business owners, potential owners, and/or community leaders. Center for Rural Affairs’ staff with REAP, our small business development program, helped with these events in Ainsworth, Valentine, Burwell, and Ord.

MarketPlace: Opening Doors to Success 2008

The 2008 Marketplace: Opening Doors to Success will be held on Wednesday, February 27, 2008, at the New World Inn in Columbus, Nebraska. Save the date!

Last year’s event was an incredible success with over 500 people attending from Nebraska and other states. Over half of attendees represented small businesses, and people came from across Nebraska – 74 counties in all. We’ve already heard from small business owners and service providers who are eagerly anticipating the second MarketPlace.

This year’s event promises to be even better with addition of youth representatives on the Advisory Committee and a youth entrepreneur training track. Part of the youth track will include teach-ins focused on agriculture. An expanded Hispanic business track is in the works as well.

feature: Essence of Organic Farming

The term “organic” means many things to many people. Unfortunately, a lot of disinformation and misinformation is causing confusion for consumers and growers alike. Many believe organic farming is all about what cannot be used to produce a crop. In reality, organic farming is all about how the product was raised and processed.


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