New Kentucky-Based Institute to Address Rural Arts Issues

The Small Town Institute for Rural Arts & Culture will focus on field-building in the arts with small communities across the country.

The Small Town America Institute for Rural Arts & Culture is led by rural artists and activists, including renowned author Silas House and painter Ceirra Evans

MT. STERLING, KENTUCKY, UNITED STATES, April 14, 2023/ — The Gateway Regional Arts Center (GRAC), a cultural institution in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, announced today the launch of the Small Town America Institute for Rural Arts & Culture. This emerging nationwide institute is dedicated to deepening the connections between arts & cultural centers in remote and rural areas in the U.S. The Institute will produce academic papers, practical how-to guides, and affordable project consultations and workshops for small-to-medium-sized cultural institutions in rural areas, as well as for small communities that wish to initiate cultural programming in their area.

“We are excited to engage in critical field-building for rural arts agencies and groups doing important work across the country,” said Jordan Campbell, Executive Director of Gateway Regional Arts Center. “Small towns produce excellent art and cultural activity, even those that are entirely under-resourced. Too often, these Herculean endeavors go unnoticed due to a lack of connectivity and documentation. We hope to scale resources to make sure that rural arts organizations have a network of collaborators and partners who might be facing similar challenges.”

The Small Town America Institute for Rural Arts & Culture was launched after recognizing the lack of resources, such as expert advice, peer-to-peer support, and access to modern technology and distribution channels, for small cultural institutions in remote areas.

The Institute will be guided by an expert Steering Committee of rural arts leaders, nonprofit executives, activists, and renowned artists and creatives. The following individuals were recently appointed to the Institute Steering Committee:

Silas House, Best-selling Author & Professor

Ceirra Evans, Visual Artist

Jonathan Adams, Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts

Mital Lyons-Warren, Americans for the Arts

Crystal Good, Black By God: The West Virginian

Benny Becker, Appalshop

Cay R. Lane, Gateway Regional Arts Center

Gerry Seavo James, Together Outdoors Coalition

Sterling Franklin, Bluegrass Center for Autism

Tammy Clemons, Independent Scholar & Media Artist

Amelia Martens, Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange

Renee Anderson, Appalachian Artisan Center

Julia Finch, Kentucky Sierra Club

McKenna Revel, Writer & Literary Arts Advocate

Alice Hilton, Sharpsburg Design Studio

With the creation of the Small Town America Institute for Rural Arts & Culture, rural cultural institutions will have access to a vast library of academic papers on best practices in the field. Furthermore, small communities can receive practical how-to guides, templates, and training materials that are tailored to the unique challenges of implementing the arts in rural areas and help them develop sustainable plans and projects, supporting and expanding the scope of their cultural offerings.

The Small Town America Institute for Rural Arts & Culture will also provide affordable project consultations and workshops for rural artists and cultural entrepreneurs, enabling participants to learn new skills and gain practical knowledge. These consultations will provide one-on-one support and guidance, helping rural arts leaders enhance their leadership capabilities and implement effective marketing strategies for their facilities and programs. People from all over the nation, no matter their geographic location, will have access to information and resources that can sustain their community’s interest and passion for arts and culture.

For more information about the Small Town America Institute for Rural Arts & Culture, please visit


Jordan Campbell
Gateway Regional Arts Center
+1 859-585-6018
[email protected]
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