Rural Arts Creative Placemaking and Advocacy
The 2016 Statewide Preservation Conference Preservation50: NYS begins this Thursday. Sessions and activities will celebrate our past achievements and help us plan for the future of historic preservation in New York State. Join us in the Capital Region on May 5-7 as we mark the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Our last session profile highlights a session that will look at current events and trends in rural arts placemaking throughout the country. Session leaders Amy Brooks and Pilar McKay will review latest trends and best practices from rural arts creative placemaking.
Rural historic places need magic. Before art is introduced, we often pass them with a sense of hopelessness: Who would ever rehab this space? Who would ever purchase this building? Who would ever do something with “this”? Why “here”? Art reframes assumptions about location and dares us to see and, consequently, to use public places in new ways.
As the co-founders of Rural Arts Weekly (@RuralArtsWeekly), a digital community of rural arts advocates, Brooks and McKay have experience in creative placemaking – particular through theatre – and will share ways to reach out to your artistic communities and start projects you’ve been imagining in your community. “We believe in the necessity of arts in placemaking and how valuable creativity can be to historic preservation in rural areas,” said McKay.
Rural Arts Weekly has started a six-month road trip, having already visited Arizona, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. “We’re gathering and sharing rural arts and placemaking ‘best practices’ from communities that we’ve seen so far,” said McKay. Those who attend this session will get a preview of what’s to come this summer, including a tour of Appalachia.
For more information on Rural Arts Weekly, a weekly Twitter chat for rural arts advocates, see this article from The Daily Yonder, “Rural Arts Conversation Moves Online,” http://www.dailyyonder.com/rural-arts-conversation-moves-online/2015/11/16/9746/.
Pilar McKay, Shake on the Lake and Rural Arts Weekly
Pilar McKay, Ph.D. is a rural arts and culture advocate, active placemaker, and communications professor. Committed to applying theory in practice, she serves as an accelerator on many start-up arts projects with small budgets and large goals. In 2011, she co-founded and serves as managing director of Shake on the Lake, a Shakespeare Festival headquartered in her hometown of Perry, New York. She is also managing partner of Silver Lake Brewing Project, producing a film on immigrants’ impact on food culture in a post-industrial rural community, and teaching advertising and research methods at American University.
Amy Brooks, Rural Arts Weekly
Amy Brooks is a Central Appalachian rural arts advocate, rural creative placemaker, and dramaturg. Her professional focus is facilitating conversations by asking questions (preferably over food). Amy has served as Humanities Director for the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. She is also a co-founder and producer of the UMass New Play Lab, a national diversity-focused play workshop in its third year. Amy received her BFA in theater from West Virginia University in her hometown of Morgantown, WV, and is currently completing an MFA in dramaturgy at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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