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Rural Arts and Cultural Summit to take place in Morris

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The 2013 Rural Arts and Culture Summit, "Leveraging Arts and Culture to Build Thriving Communities," will take place on Wednesday, June 5, and Thursday, June 6, at the University of Minnesota, Morris. The summit will celebrate the transformative power of arts-based community development in rural towns, guiding its attendees to strengthen rural towns through innovative partnerships between communities and artists. The summit is hosted by the Center for Small Towns (CST) at the University of Minnesota, Morris, in partnership with Springboard for the Arts.

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Early registration for the summit is open until Tuesday, April 30. The registration fee is $100 for two days and $70 for one day. This cost includes attendance to the conference as well as breakfast and lunch on both days. After April 30, registration will be $125 for two days, and $90 for one day. To register visit the RAC Summit website, call 218-998-4037, or email racsummit2013@gmail.com.

There will be three featured speakers at the conference:

June Holley is the author of The Network Weaving Handbook. She provides consulting, training, and coaching to organizations and communities around the world interested in creating healthier networks through a better understanding of self-organization, collaboration, innovation, and learning.

Michael Strand, a potter whose mission is to build community through art, craft and design, is the head of the Art Department at North Dakota State University. He has traveled around the world combining art with social practice and community development as he investigates the potential of craft as a catalyst for social change in communities of all sizes.

John Davis lives in Lanesboro, a small town in southeastern Minnesota, where he has been instrumental in transforming the community into a regional center for the arts. His work and initiatives have included founding the New York Mills Cultural Center, The Great American Think-Off, and an International Kids Philosophy Slam.

The summit will feature a wide variety of presentations, panels, networking opportunities, and hands-on workshops. Attendees will have the chance to hear about models from leaders across the country, including Chris Beck from the United States Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Washington, DC; Matthew Fluharty from the Art of the Rural, Missouri; Gwynn Rukenbrod from Handmade in America, North Carolina; and Donna Neuwirth from the Wormfarm Institute, Wisconsin. Sessions will explore topics such as creative placemaking, building audiences through cross-sector partnerships, planning, design and economic development, the intersection of art and agriculture, funding challenges and opportunities, and case studies of innovative models which foster community interaction or enhance a region's identity.

The Rural Arts and Culture Summit is supported by several organizations alongside Springboard for the Arts and the Center for Small Towns, including the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission, the Five Wings Arts Council, the Viking Library System, and Green Island Art and Nature Sanctuary. This activity is made possible by the McKnight Foundation, and by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Springboard for the Arts is an economic and community development organization based in St. Paul and Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Springboard for the Arts' mission is to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life. Their work is about building stronger communities, neighborhoods, and economies, and supporting artists to be an important leverage point in that work.

The University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns (CST) is a community outreach program that serves as a point-of-entry to the resources of the University of Minnesota. Small towns, local units of government, K-12 schools, nonprofit organizations, and other University units are able to utilize the Center's resources as they work on rural issues or make contributions to rural society. Their mission is to focus the University's attention and marshal its resources toward assisting Minnesota's small towns with locally identified issues by creating applied learning opportunities for faculty and students.

Additional information on the Rural Arts and Culture Summit is available online at racsummit.org, facebook.com/racsummit and twitter.com/racsummit.

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